2.24.2013

It's Oscar time!

Since I've seen all the nominees for Best Movie and most of the nominees for the other major categories, I've decided to make some predictions (and wishes) for tonight.

Here's the key:
bold text - I saw the movie
S - what I think *should* win
W - what I think *will* win
I'll come back later and indicate what *did* win in green italic text.

NOMINEES FOR THE 85TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS

BEST PICTURE

"Lincoln"
"Life of Pi"
"Django Unchained"
"Amour"
"Zero Dark Thirty"
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
"Argo" W S
"Les Miserables"
"Silver Linings Playbook"


I was talking with my sister about this.  Although I was completely mesmerized by Lincoln, and Daniel Day-Lewis' performance, Argo is the movie I enjoyed the most this year followed by Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, and Beasts of the Southern WildLincoln's in the middle of the pack.  The least enjoyable was Life of Pi.  The CGI throughout was too distracting to me.  They shouldn't have made the movie and just let the book stand on its own.

Update:  Woo hoo!!!!!  I feel so proud of Ben Affleck.  Very well-deserved!!  He gave a great speech.  Aww...I'm all verklempt.


BEST DIRECTOR

Michael Haneke, "Amour"
Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"
Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"  W S
David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook"


Well, since Ben Affleck wasn't nominated, I think Spielberg will get it.  If Ben was here, it'd be his.


Update:  Meh.  Mr. Lee gave a gracious speech.  The orchestra definitely let him go longer than anyone else.  No Jaws music for Ang Lee. 

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour" W
Quvenzhane Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Naomi Watts, "The Impossible" S


This is a tough category.  My favorite nominee is little Quvenzhane Wallis, who was only 6 when she filmed this role.  She is the youngest person ever nominated and Emmanuelle Riva at 86 is the oldest person ever nominated.  I think that's pretty cool.  I think each of these performances deserve to be nominated, but I really think Naomi Watts should win based on the sheer physicality and emotions she displayed.  She was fantastic.  Meanwhile, Emmanuelle Riva, as I said, is the oldest to be nominated, and her performance and role was devastating.  I'd be happy if she won too.


Update:  Oh no....Jennifer Lawrence fell going up the stairs.  Where were the ushers to help her?!  Good for her on winning the award.  This is the only category I got completely wrong, where neither my "will win" or "should win" won.  That's pretty good, I'd say.


BEST ACTOR

Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln" W S
Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables"

Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"
Denzel Washington, "Flight"

I don't think there's any question that Daniel Day-Lewis will (and should) win this one.  His transformation into Lincoln was incredible.  The Master comes out on DVD on Tuesday, so I'll have to catch that one soon.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Amy Adams, "The Master"
Sally Field, "Lincoln"
Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"  W
Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"  S


This one pains me.  I LOVE the Broadway version of Les Miserables, and have seen it several times, so I think I went in to the movie with high expectations, and they were dashed.  I thought Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried sang WAY out of their range, and it was grating after a while.  I thought Anne completely overacted her small role, and the more I see her now doing her acceptance speeches and interviews, the less I like her.  She's trying to be humble, but comes off completely fake.  I'd hate to see her win another award for this role, but I think the writing is on the wall that she will.  Meanwhile, I watched The Sessions last night, and Helen Hunt was great as a sex surrogate hired by a quadriplegic man who spends much of his time in an iron lung.  It was a quiet, sweet performance and she was great.  (The only issue was her on-again/off-again Boston accent.)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin, "Argo"
Robert DeNiro, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"
Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"
Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained" W S


Entertainment Weekly thinks Robert DeNiro will get this.  Knowing Oscar voters and how they often give awards to make up for omissions in the past, EW may be right; however, I think his role in Silver Linings Playbook although good, was not Oscar worthy.  Christoph Waltz is an amazing actor and deserves this win.  I love the twinkle in his eye, even as he's about to kill somebody.  He has a way of being playful and menacing at the same time.  I love that. 


Update:  I knew EW had that one wrong.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Mark Boal, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained" W S
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, "Moonrise Kingdom"
Michael Haneke, "Amour"
John Gatins, "Flight"

Another tough category.  I think Django Unchained, Moonrise Kingdom, and Amour are equally deserving of this award.  They're all so different so it's hard to compare them.  I think Quentin Tarantino has momentum on his side.

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Tony Kushner, "Lincoln"
David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook" W
Chris Terrio, "Argo" S
David Magee, "Life of Pi"
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"


It's hard for me to judge this category since Life of Pi is the only book I read.  I can say that Life of Pi should not win.  I'd like to see Argo win, but think the Oscar voters might give it to Silver Linings Playbook.

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

"Hitchcock"
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
"Les Miserables"

Not making a prediction here, just wondering why Lincoln wasn't nominated??

That's it.  We'll see what happens tonight!

UPDATE:  Final show wrap up:
1.  Halle Berry looked spectacular!
2.  Jennifer Hudson tore it up with "And I Am Telling You..."
3.  I was hoping the Les Miserables cast would lip sync, but no such luck.  I went to watch this video to wipe the movie cast's version from my mind:

4.  Seth McFarlane was....okay.  The bit at the beginning with Captain Kirk went on WAY too long.
5.  Yay Adele!
6.  Using the theme from Jaws to play people off the stage was awesome.
7.  The final song to the losers was okay.  I just have to wonder--how did they write that...were they just taking bets on who would win?  Were there several versions of the song?
7.  Ultimately, it was a pretty dull show, but that's nothing new.  Still, I'm so happy about Argo winning best picture.  Adele sang.  Jennifer knocked it out.  I still like Seth McFarlane, but not necessarily as an Oscar host.  All hosting gigs should be given, here on out, to Billy Crystal or Neil Patrick Harris.
 
 

2.19.2013

Black History of the White House by Clarence Lusane

The Black History of the White HouseThe Black History of the White House by Clarence Lusane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I had the pleasure of hearing Clarence Lusane speak about his book at a work seminar last year.  

As the author writes, this book features "the stories of real people who have challenged the racist dimensions of U. S. power and privilege that convey the history and experience of African Americans and their shifting relationship to the White House.  For too many years, their experiences have been ignored, their voices silenced, their history absent from the public classroom."

Mr. Lusane does an excellent job of bringing these stories to light.  A different story serves as a prelude to each chapter.  My favorite story was about Oney Judge, a slave owned by George Washington, who escaped from right under his nose.  These were fascinating anecdotes that I'd never heard before.

However, the book, at times, is a bit tedious to read.  I'm afraid the author tried to put too much into it.  It's not well organized and the timeline is all over the place.  I often found it difficult to keep track of what place in history I was reading about. 

My other main gripe is that Mr. Lusane often inserts his judgment and opinion into the narrative rather than just presenting the facts.  I didn't mind this when I saw him speak because his comments served more as an aside and helped personalize his talk, but in the book, it seemed out of place.  For example, when discussing the McCain/Palin presidential campaign, he wrote that McCain selected "ill-prepared, ignorant, and vapid Alaska governor, Sarah Palin." Whether or not you agree with that statement, it doesn't belong in a history book.  It shows the author's bias and cheapens his credibility a bit.   

Still, I definitely recommend that everyone pick up this book and at least read each chapter prelude.  I think these are important stories that everyone needs to hear. 



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