Friday, January 15, 2016

Dave-El Does Hollywood



Before I start today's post, I want to take a moment to note the passing of Alan Rickman yesterday of cancer at the age of 69. For a generation, Rickman was a fixture of the Harry Potter movies as Snape, the dark, sinister teacher at Hogwart's who was so disdainful of Harry Potter but then we learn Snape's heartbreaking secret. But I was there at the beginning of Rickman's Hollywood career, watching Die Hard on the big screen. This was notable for Bruce Willis' big debut as an action hero/box office draw but Rickman nearly stole the show with his first role in an American movie, playing the villain with an air of danger and menace that dripped from his every word. 

So farewell and God speed, Alan Rickman. If I may borrow a line from one of your most delightful films, Galaxy Quest


"By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, 

you will be remembered."

And now, the usual stupidity...


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Hi there! Welcome to I’m So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the favoritest blog of all the stars in Tinseltown. I’m Dave-El and where the hell did all this tinsel come from?


The Oscar nominations came out Thursday and I’m doing a post about that although I haven’t seen any of films nominated in the major categories except one. But to hell with that, I'm going to judge them anyway. Because that’s how I roll. 

Since I can’t judge these movies and performances on what I’ve seen, I have to base my guesses on what I’ve read in the entertainment press.*

*Entertainment Weekly is my bible; E! News Daily is my service of worship.

And these guesses are predicated less on the quality of the performance and more on who I think is actually going to win. If this was based on who I want to win, trust me, Leo DiCaprio and his man raping bear would be going home without a trophy. Whether they'd be going home together, well, who can say.


Before I get this underway, I want to advise of a couple of things from the films of 2015 that you will not find among the nominees:


  • The magic time travelling dolphin from SpongeBob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water
  • Bryce Dallas Howard's shoes from Jurassic World


Just wanted to get those out of the way. I wouldn't want you to be disappointed later. I prefer it if you're disappointed now*.

*(That's what she said!)

(Shut up!)  

I will focus on 8 main categories and a 9th just for good measure. So let’s get this show on the road.

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Best Actor



  • Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
  • Matt Damon, The Martian
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl






Matt Damon basically played Matt Damon which is OK because nobody can play Matt Damon better than Matt Damon with the possible exception of Mark Wahlberg.

Mike Fassbender may have disappeared into the role of Steve Jobs but the movie Steve Jobs pretty much disappeared from Oscar contention. Eddie Redmayne is a man playing a woman who is really a man. Score points for quirkiness and Eddie’s delicate cheekbones but is that enough to carry the day? 


Really, though, Bryan Cranston deserves this award. He’s built a lot of street cred as an actor from his outstanding TV work on an incredibly well liked program. But enough about Malcolm in the Middle. (Oh, and that Breaking Bad thing. Heard he was pretty good in that too.) But the low profile of Trumbo doesn’t help Bryan’s case and besides, I think the Academy is determined to give an actor award to Leonardo DiCaprio

There were a lot of 16 year old girls totally crushing on Leo back in the '90's and they were pissed off when he was snubbed by the Oscars for his role in Titanic. Well, those 16 year old girls are now women in their mid-thirties and they are still pissed off about that. The Academy owes them, damn it, owes then Leonardo DiCaprio clutching a gold Oscar statuette for being the bestest actor ever! 


So this year, The Revenant is DiCaprio’s Training Day. Training Day was a standard good copy/bad cop story that was a bit above average. It was not a bad movie but it wasn't Denzel Washington’s best film. But it was good enough and dammit, the Academy was going to give Denzel Washington an Oscar RIGHT NOW!


This year, it’s Leo’s turn to get the Denzel.  

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Best Actress



  • Cate Blanchett, Carol
  • Brie Larson, Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn






I’m sure Charlotte Rampling is a lovely woman and a talented actress but I have no damn idea what 45 Years is about or that it was even a movie. Cate Blanchett is a joy to watch as an actress but Cate’s role in Carol is basically Cate Blanchett 101 with a lesbian relationship for extra credit.


Here’s where things get a bit tougher. Saoirse Ronan is the type of up and coming actress that the Academy loves to throw an Oscar at. I do know about the film Brooklyn thanks to the umpteen ads for it that were run this fall during Doctor Who on BBC America. It looks like a classic “coming to America” saga that stirs the hearts (and accompanying pacemakers) of Oscar voters. But then there’s Brie Larson who has to carry the bulk of Room by herself. Oh, that's a hot thing this year, actors carrying entire TV episodes (Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who) and movies like Room (as well as The Martian and The Revenant) and Oscar voters love a plucky actor taking on a challenging role under challenging circumstances.*

*One thing that might hurt Brie Larson's chances: will people confuse Room with

The Room? Room is reportedly a very good movie while The Room is something with pictures and sounds. 



And in the middle, there is Joy. The movie itself has not made great waves with critics or at the box office but Jennifer Lawrence is singled out for a marvelous performance of a character that spans over several years in the sort of “overcoming adversity” storyline that moviegoers like to cheer for and makes up 85% of the programming on the Lifetime Movie Network. And in Lawrence, you have an actress is at once young with a promising career ahead of her but with an impressive array of roles already on her resume. Right now, my inclination is towards Jennifer for this one.

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Best Supporting Actor



  • Christian Bale, The Big Short
  • Tom Hardy, The Revenant
  • Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed






AND….


Best Supporting Actress



  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara, Carol
  • Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs






As Bill Murray once said on Saturday Night Live, “No one really gives a damn about these.”

Fine, I’ll pick something: Mark Ruffalo (because he plays the Hulk) and Kate Winslet (I've seen her boobs. Well, so has everyone). 


Seriously, there are no breakaway winners or outright losers in either of these fields that I can see. I’ll dive back into this as more data trickles in. Or I just might role dice on Oscar night.  

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Best Adapted Screenplay



  • The Big Short, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
  • Brooklyn, Nick Hornby
  • Carol, Phyllis Nagy
  • The Martian, Drew Goddard
  • Room, Emma Donoghue






Two of these screenplays feature characters interacting with other characters very little or not at all. And it’s hard to write about stuff when there’s only 1 person to work with. That being said, I think the Academy feels it needs to give The Martian something since the big awards are going to Leo’s Big Bear Rape Movie.

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Best Original Screenplay



  • Bridge of Spies, Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
  • Ex Machina, Alex Garland
  • Inside Out, Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
  • Spotlight, Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
  • Straight Outta Compton, Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff





First of all, notice who is NOT there. No nomination for Quentin Tarentino's screenplay for The Hateful Eight. Usually QT is a very constant presence in this category whenever he has a movie out. 

I would really, really, REALLY love to see Inside Out take this award. Animation is relegated to its two animation categories when there is just as much sweat and tears that goes into an animated movie as a live action and nowhere is that more true than in the screenplay. 


But we may have some white guilt to contend with here. The nominees are whiter than a bag of marshmallows in a snowstorm. Will Straight Outta Comptom ride that wave of guilt to a screen writing Oscar trophy? 

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Best Directing



  • Adam McKay, The Big Short
  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
  • Lenny Abrahamson, Room
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight






AND…


Best Picture



  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight









I could debate the relative merits of all these films and as we get closer to the actual Academy Awards, there may be some shakeout among these contenders with some tracking more strongly than others. Still, right now, the momentum is overwhelmingly for Alejandro González Iñárritu (it's pronounced "Throatwarbler Mangrove") for Best Director and The Revenant for Best Movie.

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And before I wrap this up….


Best Animated Feature



  • Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson and Rosa Tran
  • Boy and the World, Alê Abreu
  • Inside Out, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie, Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
  • When Marnie Was There, Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura







I include Best Animated Feature in my group of pics usually because I want there to be at least one movie on this list I’ve actually seen. And in this case, that’s Inside Out. But I’m not picking this out of familiarity but because it really is that good. Probably the Pixar film with the most emotional depth we’ve seen since Up.

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So that’s my overview of these key categories for the Oscar nominees. Please, I do urge you not to use this blog and posts like this for any gambling on the Oscars. I’m just a simple man with a college education that I barely remember with an abiding love of pontificating on things I know little about.


If you do make any bets base on this post, you cut me  in! We cool?


I’ll be back with another post tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another. And I'll see you at the movies!*

*Some time in March when Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice comes out. 

What the hell, why not? The time traveling magic dolphin wins an Oscar! Yay!  



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