Epic Film Quest: ‘Gigi’ and (ugh) France

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on April 16th, 2014 by Nick

Poster - Gigi_01If a friend or reader was going to try to follow my footsteps in the trek to watch every single Best Picture winner in the history of forever, I would probably advise that they sell their TV, slap themselves in the face, and run away from home. Regardless, this blogger is trudging forward and probably isn’t any better for it.

The latest Best Picture winner I watched: Gigi, the winner from 1958. The film is set in turn-of-the-century Paris, France as a young girl, Gigi, is trying to find her bearings among high society. She’s sent to her Great Aunt’s swank pad to learn etiquette and charm, so that she can eventually marry a rich man and be his arm candy. Gigi starts keeping the company of a family friend (token rich guy) Gaston and YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, OMG!

Despite the life that Leslie Caron brought to the role of Gigi, I’m indifferent to the film. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. And these are the worst movies to write about! Because nothing is more fun than ripping apart a movie you loathe (Out of Africa) or raving about one you loved (All About Eve), but these middle-of-the-road-types? Meh.  I will say, though, that Gigi is a musical and every single song is entirely forgettable. So there’s that. What else? Oh, yeah. FRANCE, UGH.

There are two themes/settings I struggle with in film – one is period pieces, and the second, France. Which isn’t to say that I despise all period pieces – I don’t. But something about France rubs me the wrong way, even in film. Maybe this feeling stems from going there and it sucking. I fully intend on never visiting France ever again. Sure, I’m glad I’ve been to the Louvre and saw the Eiffel Tower and yada, yada, yada, tourism stuff, but there is absolutely no reason to return. Because Italy. If you love being treated like garbage because you don’t speak French and are in a strange city, you should totally check it out. It sucks when stereotypes become reality, and I won’t generalize here, but the French people that I personally encountered for that week of my life were less than friendly. (The few late night strolls and boat rides we did around the city were pretty amazing though.)

Sorry for that aside. It’s just that there is nothing even remotely interesting about Gigi to discuss except that the music sucked…and so does France.

Grade: C-

Almost every movie I have left on my quest is at least seven hours long. Things are about to get bumpy. If there’s a REALLY GOOD Best Pic winner that I haven’t covered yet, please send me your recommendations. I could really use an upper right about now, chased with a nice tall glass of motivation.

Next up: Gandhi and The Deer Hunter

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Oscars 2014: So who won?

Posted in Movies on March 3rd, 2014 by Nick

Lupita-Nyongo-Academy-AwardsIt was really generous of Gravity to let some other films win a few shiny gold men. The Alfonso Cuarón-directed film took home honors for Cuarón (Best Director), Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects.

Despite winning the most Oscars, 12 Years a Slave won the top prize and also saw Lupita Nyong’o win for Best Supporting Actress with an emotional, powerful, grateful-newbie acceptance speech. Her gratitude was heartwarming and welcomed.

Host and Master General Ellen DeGeneres did her ‘Ellen DeGeneres’ thing, sans dancing, but plus pizza, so you know, bonus! Though a safe option for host, DeGeneres is always supremely likable, so it’s hard to chug any haterade in her face.

Everyone. Talked. For so. Long. From Jared Leto (thanking his mom, your mom, the rest of moms everywhere) to Cate Blanchett, everyone seemed to be taking their sweet ass time up on that podium. Though Blanchett made a powerful point: Women are in movies, women can be strong characters, and women can make a shitload of money at the box office. And she said it while holding her statue. Perfect.

Kevin Spacey showed up and made a House of Cards quip and this means everything because House of Cards.

I would’ve loved to see Karen O win an Oscar. Because she is Karen-fucking-O. But her performance of “The Moon Song” was simple, yet haunting – beautifully delicate and meaningful. I’m just glad the world got to see another side of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman.

Also, never forget: Matthew McConaughey’s hero: Matthew McConaughey.

Alright, enough yappin’. The full winners list is below:

Best Picture
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
 – WINNER
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actor
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club — WINNER

Best Actress
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine – WINNER
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club – WINNER

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave – WINNER
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Best Director
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity – WINNER
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Original Screenplay
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club
Spike Jonze, Her – WINNER
Bob Nelson, Nebraska

Best Adapted Screenplay
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave – WINNER
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Animated Feature
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen – WINNER
The Wind Rises

Best Original Song
“Happy,” Despicable Me 2; music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go,” Frozen; music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez — WINNER
“The Moon Song,” Her; music by Karen O., lyrics by Karen O. and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; music by Paul Hewson, Dan Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, a.k.a. U2; lyrics by Paul Hewson, a.k.a. Bono

Best Original Score
John Williams, The Book Thief
Steven Price, Gravity – WINNER
William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her
Alexandre Desplat, Philomena
Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks

Best Production Design
Judy Becker (Production Design); Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration), American Hustle
Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration), Gravity
Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration), The Great Gatsby – WINNER
K.K. Barrett (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration), Her
Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Alice Baker (Set Decoration), 12 Years a Slave

Best Film Editing
Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten, American Hustle
Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa, Dallas Buyers Club
Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, Gravity – WINNER
Joe Walker, 12 Years a Slave

Best Cinematography
Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity – WINNER
Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
Roger A. Deakins, Prisoners

Best Sound Editing
Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns, All Is Lost
Oliver Tarney, Captain Phillips
Glenn Freemantle, Gravity – WINNER
Brent Burge, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Wylie Stateman, Lone Survivor

Best Sound Mixing
Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro, Captain Phillips
Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro, Gravity – WINNER
Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland, Inside Llewyn Davis
Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow, Lone Survivor

Best Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium
The Great Beauty, Italy — WINNER
The Hunt, Denmark
The Missing Picture, Cambodia
Omar, Palestine

Best Documentary — Feature
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom – WINNER

Best Documentary — Short
CaveDigger
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – WINNER
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Best Live Action Short
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Helium – WINNER
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem

Best Visual Effects
Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould, Gravity – WINNER
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick, Iron Man 3
Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier, The Lone Ranger
Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton, Star Trek Into Darkness

Best Animated Short
Feral
Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot – WINNER
Possessions
Room on the Broom

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club – WINNER
Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny, The Lone Ranger

Best Costume Design
Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
William Chang Suk Ping, The Grandmaster
Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby – WINNER
Michael O’Connor, The Invisible Woman
Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave

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2014 Oscar Predictions

Posted in Movies on February 25th, 2014 by Nick

81st Academy Awards¨ Press Kit ImagesHoly hell, the Oscars came up fast! This Sunday, March 2, the 86th annual Academy Awards will air on ABC and you know the deal – red carpet at 7, ceremony at 8, yada yada yada. Semi-funny-woman Ellen DeGenerous will host (who is likable, but oftentimes, safe). Winners will be declared, and losers will get drunk…it should be a glorious, super-fun night (which reminds me – I need to buy a shitton of wine).

I found this Oscar ballot thingie and made some predictions as to who I think is going to win. It’ll be super embarassing come Monday when I’m entirely wrong about almost every single category, but it was fun to fill out. For a few categories, I chose who I desperately want to win even though it might be considered a longshot (Come on, Linklater, Hawke and Delpy!)

Anyways – here are my predictions. You can click on the image to maximize it. Sorry it’s not a better scan. You can blame my office copier’s scanner. (I know I do!) Oh, and I skipped some categories because there were a few that I just couldn’t predict because apparently I don’t watch enough shorts, foreign films or documentaries. Whoops.

OscarPredictions-page-001

Want to fill out your own ballot? Here’s a blank copy – Tweet me your predictions @LittlestWinslow (or comment below)! Whoever kicks my ass in this will win…all my love and respect. (Again – click to maximize, right-click, save to computer.)

I’ll also be Live Tweeting Sunday’s action, so check me out on Twitter and watch my tweeting get drunker and sloppier by the minute – see you there!

OscarBallot-page-001

 

 

 

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Oscar Nominations 2014: Gravity, American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave Lead the Pack

Posted in Movies on January 16th, 2014 by Nick

american-hustle-posters-sonyThe nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards were announced this morning, making me realize that holy hell am I behind. Gravity, American Hustle, and 12 Years A Slave lead with the most nominations (and lets be serious – they’ll dominate the ceremony this year.)

There’s a lot of expected hits on this list, but I’m just really happy that Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke scored a nod for Before Midnight. (More people should love the Before Sunrise trilogy.)

And sadly, no love for Fruitvale Station or Short Term 12? In a year full of some stiff competition, I guess not even Sundance or SXSW could’ve helped these little indies.

So who else is in the running for the golden statues? The nominees are:

Best Picture
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Director
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actress
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Best Actor
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Best Adapted Screenplay
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Original Screenplay
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club
Spike Jonze, Her
Bob Nelson, Nebraska

Best Original Song
“Alone Yet Not Alone,” Alone Yet Not Alone; music by Bruce Broughton, lyrics by Dennis Spiegel
“Happy,” Despicable Me 2; music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go,” Frozen; music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song,” Her; music by Karen O., lyrics by Karen O. and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; music by Paul Hewson, Dan Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, a.k.a. U2; lyrics by Paul Hewson, a.k.a. Bono

Best Animated Feature
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

Best Documentary — Feature
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

Best Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium
The Great Beauty, Italy
The Hunt, Denmark
The Missing Picture, Cambodia
Omar, Palestine

Best Original Score
John Williams, The Book Thief
Steven Price, Gravity
William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her
Alexandre Desplat, Philomena
Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks

Best Cinematography
Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
Roger A. Deakins, Prisoners

Best Production Design
Judy Becker (Production Design); Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration), American Hustle
Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration), Gravity
Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration), The Great Gatsby
K.K. Barrett (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration), Her
Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Alice Baker (Set Decoration), 12 Years a Slave

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club
Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny, The Lone Ranger

Best Costume Design
Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
William Chang Suk Ping, The Grandmaster
Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby
Michael O’Connor, The Invisible Woman
Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave

Best Film Editing
Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten, American Hustle
Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa, Dallas Buyers Club
Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, Gravity
Joe Walker, 12 Years a Slave

Best Visual Effects
Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould, Gravity
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick, Iron Man 3
Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier, The Lone Ranger
Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton, Star Trek Into Darkness

Best Sound Mixing
Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro, Captain Phillips
Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro, Gravity
Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland, Inside Llewyn Davis
Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow, Lone Survivor

Best Sound Editing
Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns, All Is Lost
Oliver Tarney, Captain Phillips
Glenn Freemantle, Gravity
Brent Burge, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Wylie Stateman, Lone Survivor

Best Documentary — Short
CaveDigger
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Best Live Action Short
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Helium
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem

Best Animated Short
Feral
Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Possessions
Room on the Broom

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Film Quest: These ‘West Side Story’ Gangsters Aren’t Very Thuggy

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on January 14th, 2014 by Nick

west_side_story_xlgI feel it may be sacrilegious to admit that I didn’t care for West Side Story, but, uh, I didn’t. Like God might smite me or something. My mom loves the film though. Maybe I should’ve made her write this blog. (If only she knew what a blog was…)

The dancing and choreography were top notch, kiddos, OK? I won’t deny that these “thugs” can shake it. They frolic around as if they’re floating on air and held up by wires (which I bet if this movie was remade nowadays, it’d be supported by wire work. Or maybe the first-ever CGI Musical! I’ll take “Bad movie ideas” for $500, Alex.)

What was I saying? YEAH – dudes can PRANCE.

I didn’t connect with anything else. The music was entirely unappealing to me. The love story is completely ripped off from Romeo and Juliet (and many of the characters are even counterparts to specific R&J characters). I’m not a huge Natalie Wood fan (She didn’t even SING in the film! It’s a musical. Did. Not. Sing.) I’m not a huge Richard Beymer fan either.

Rita Moreno was a little firecracker though! Moreno played Maria’s closest gal-pal Anita (and also Bernado’s lady). Not only was this little sexpot super saucy, but she was a scene stealer, too! She added a lot of appeal to a 2.5 hour film that I was desperately struggling with.

Also, for being a bunch of gangsters, these guys were pretty sissy, man. I don’t know many gang members, but I can almost guarantee that they rarely break out in song. JUST SAYIN’.

(Oscar fun fact: West Side Story has won more Academy Awards than any other musical film, unless you count the Honorary Award given to Maurice Chevalier for Gigi in 1959. Then, the two films would tie at 10 wins each.)

Oh, Oscar fans, Epic Film Quest followers, Musical geeks – this one let me down in a major way. Or maybe it was I that let it down. Either way, it just wasn’t my cup o’ Earl Grey.

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Bingeing with the Epic Film Quest and ‘The Lost Weekend’

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on October 16th, 2013 by Nick

The_Lost_Weekend_posterI fully realize that my last post was a review of a mid-80’s Italian Horror flick about a demon epidemic that takes over a small movie theater and later THE WORLD, so perhaps it’s super strange that I jump back and forth between black-and-white Best Pictures from the 1940’s and…well, that. But I’m going to do it anyways because I am a lover of all moviefilms. Viva movies! Though I do wonder how many members of The Academy have seen Demons. I’m guessing slim-to-none.

This Best Picture from 1945 recounts the life of an alcoholic New York writer, Don Birnam, as he attempts to give up drinking…but instead rages on a weekend alcoholic binge despite the good intentions of his brother and girlfriend. The movie, directed by Billy Wilder and starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman, was based on a book of the same name written by Charles R. Jackson.

The movie starts with Don pretending to pack for a weekend trip with his brother. Rather than making sure he has his cell phone charger and iPad (or whatever was the 40’s version of those were), his brain is completely focusing on the bottle he has tied to his window sill, hanging outside over the window’s edge. (OK, if I was going to hide a bottle, that’d probably be the last place I would put it. I would take an Iced Tea container, dump out the tea, and put Jack Daniels in it. Then just put it in the fridge. I probably wouldn’t tie the JD to a rope and hang it outside. Probably would not. Just don’t offer your guests “Iced Tea.”)

Don dodges his brother and gal pal by sending them off to a show, leaving him alone just long enough to start his weekend bender. We see how others react to him, specifically a bartender at a local watering hole. Basically everyone thinks he’s Andy Dick. But what’s amusing about this film, from a modern perspective, is how literal Don is with his words…and how introspective:

“It shrinks my liver, doesn’t it, Nat? It pickles my kidneys, yeah. But what it does to the mind? It tosses the sandbags overboard so the balloon can soar. Suddenly I’m above the ordinary. I’m competent. I’m walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls. I’m one of the great ones. I’m Michaelangelo, molding the beard of Moses. I’m Van Gogh painting pure sunlight. I’m Horowitz, playing the Emperor Concerto. I’m John Barrymore before movies got him by the throat. I’m Jesse James and his two brothers, all three of them. I’m W. Shakespeare. And out there it’s not Third Avenue any longer, it’s the Nile. Nat, it’s the Nile and down it moves the barge of Cleopatra.”

I can assure you that I don’t speak as…uhh…”competently” as Don does when I’m hammered.

Even Don’s “hallucinations” are literal and old school – they certainly don’t mirror anything we’ve seen in Requiem for a Dream, that’s for damn sure. Once again, this film quest is kind of like seeing the world through a 1940’s kaleidoscope, both in terms of viewing society and its characters, but also in terms of filmmaking and filmmakers of the time. Even though at times Don and his problem were somewhat humorous because of the unrealistic dialogue (again, by today’s standards) and techniques, The Lost Weekend still gave us a great character to sink our teeth into, and an even better performance by Milland.

Grade: A-

The film is a short 99 minutes, so if you’re looking for an easily digestible classic to peruse, The Lost Weekend is a great place to start.

I have 30 Best Pictures left! Baby-stepping it to the 20s…

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‘Tom Jones’: Banging Chicks and Being a Douchebag, 1700s Style

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on October 3rd, 2013 by Nick

51CEFQZVKZLThe Best Picture winner of 1963 was this British Adventure Comedy set in the 1700s called Tom Jones. It follows the life of the title character, a bastard in both the literal and slang sense. He’s a rambunctious little bugger who runs around getting laid, causing a raucous, and embarrassing his foster-father, Squire Allworthy.

Tom falls in love with Sophie and she’s a proper lady who has a dad who’s all stuffy and junk, so he tries his best to make sure a more suitable companion marries his daughter instead. That suitor is Squire Allworthy’s sister’s son, Blifil, who then tries (and succeeds) in getting his competition, Tom, expelled from their town or village or whatever. But there’s a secret to Tom’s heritage that only Blifil knows after intercepting a letter written by his dying mother to Allworthy, and this secret could change Tom’s life forever.

DUN DUN DUN!

This all sounds so dramatic in text, but Tom Jones was enjoyable, lighthearted and fun, especially for its time. Albert Finney rocked the lead role, coyly breaking the fourth wall to wink at the audience from time to time. I mean…who did that in 1963!? No one, my friends. Props.

The movie even started with a silent film sequence setting up Tom’s abandonment and adoption by Squire Allworthy in a classic British-silent-picture sort of way. A lot of the comedy and style of this Best Pic were totally ahead of its time and that’s something to appreciate as a modern-day viewer. (Shoutout to director Tony Richardson – well done, I say! I’m sure he really needs my validation. Oh bummer, he died in 1991. This shoutout just turned into an homage. This is a really long aside.)

In sum, man-whores existed even way back in the 1700s. And even though I claim ol’ Tommy was a douchebag, he was a loveable douchebag…kind of like a modern day Hank Moody from Californication. Is that show on yet? Doesn’t it start soon? Someone remind me.

Tom Jones brought my Epic Film Quest tally down to 31…but wait a sec…it’s actually 30! Because I watched another one before I even wrote this post! Almost under 30, kids.. I really liked this one and give it a solid B+…and there’s another great, great flick to follow!

I should write more and be more speedy.

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The Academy Awards: Jennifer Lawrence, That ‘Les Mis’ Musical Number, and the History of Ties at the Oscars. Oh, and maybe that Affleck guy, too.

Posted in Check It Out!, Movies, TV on February 25th, 2013 by Nick

movies-oscars-2013-acting-winners_1The 85th Academy Awards ceremony aired last night and if you aren’t dead, you’re probably just about overloaded on Oscar mania, thanks to Twitter and Facebook alone. But still, shit’s worth mentioning, yo.

Seth MacFarlane was way better than anticipated. Sure, there were racy, borderline-sexist jokes, but compared to his usually douchebag self (this coming from a pretty big Family Guy/Ted fan, so settle down, Beavis), he didn’t go overboard. He had lots of hilarious jokes and jabs, and let’s face it: Dude can sing. The opening was great, the collaborations and music followed through – this blogger was pleased!

Jennifer Lawrence won for Best Actress and tripped on the way up. But no one cares, because Jennifer Lawrence can pretty much kill a baby koala on stage and everyone would still love her. Her candor is so, so refreshing for an up-and-coming Hollywood-type to be and as long as she continues being herself (and acting the shit out of everything she’s in), she’s going to have a long, healthy, and entertaining career to follow.

Now, I’m not too huge of a Musical guy, but I do have my guilty pleasures. Admittedly, Les Misérables isn’t one of them. However, that musical number by the Les Mis cast? Holy shit. Guess I need to see it? Even that 10-second clip during Hathaway’s win was very powerful. Even though insert-Russell-Crowe-joke-here, I still have to get on it. Because WOW.

Which now brings me to that tie! (You can tie!?) The editors from Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall shared Oscars for Best Sound Editing last night which made the entire world wonder if that shiz had ever happened before. It has. Last night was the sixth time in Oscar history. I thought I’d have to do some serious investigating on this one, but it turns out the Internet was all over it this morning. Here’s the skinny:

According to the AMPAs database, the first happened in 1931-32, when Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde’s Frederic March and The Champ’s Wallace Beery each won the Best Actor award. However, the vote count wasn’t an actual tie — Beery received one more than March, but the rules at the time stated two winners would be honored if the count was within three votes. The rule subsequently changed.

In 1949, A Chance to Live and So Much for So Little both won the Best Documentary Short award. Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand tied for the Best Actress statuette in 1968, for their respective roles in The Lion in Winter and Funny Girl. The fourth tie occurred in 1986, when Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got and Down and Out in America were honored for Best Documentary. Finally, Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Trevor both won the Best Short Film (Live Action) award in 1995.

So there you have it! Six ties. Count ‘em.

And Affleck. Man, if there isn’t a better example for a Champ-Turned-Underdog. Dude wins for Good Will Hunting and then is basically mocked for years, only to have a killer fuck you-comeback with Argo. Then, he accepts graciously to an Academy and public full of assholes that shunned him. Affleck had a moment and showed poise, all while making us feel like the jerks we are. Good on ya, Ben, despite whatever-the-hell he said to his wife, Jennifer Garner. What was that about? I don’t know. Who cares. Ben > Us.

Though last night’s event felt crazy long by its conclusion, the charisma, music, and titty jokes really made it all worthwhile.

I just wish Beasts of the Southern Wild had walked away with something.

For a complete winners list, click here.

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‘How Green Was My Valley’ Mysteries Revealed, Movie is Not a Porn

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on February 12th, 2013 by Nick

how-green-was-my-valley-8Before our viewing of the 1941 Best Picture winner How Green Was My Valley, my lady mentioned that it sounded like the title of a porno. Although the movie turned out to be your run-of-the-mill 1940′s film (bummer, man), I stopped to think about the many possibilities: In the movie’s bizarro porn version, would the miners get laid every time they returned home from work, covered in soot and ash? Would there be lots of shower scenes to make up for their gross grime? Or maybe some of their ladies met them below the surface for some underground lovin’. Did porn even exist in the 40′s!? A guy has to wonder.

I think we singlehandedly mocked and destroyed one of the most beloved movies of all time. And I’m talking, like, in the history of modern day cinema.

Oh, well.

I didn’t love this entry of the Quest, but I didn’t hate it either. This is one of those that sort of felt like a mere check off a list. It’s really fun to write about stuff I absolutely lose my mind over or things I loathe more than pickles, but when the result is somewhere in the middle I’m rather mum. I think my preconceptions got the best of me on this one – I was expecting more and wasn’t significantly moved with regard to the miners’ struggles, families, unions, etc. The socio-economic snapshot of poor coal miners wasn’t completely lost on me, I just didn’t fully connect with it. I don’t fault the film for this, though. It just didn’t happen. Can’t love everything.

From a modern day viewpoint, it’s unbelievable that this one beat out Citizen Kane for the title. But according to Wikipedia (it MUST be true if it’s on Wikipedia!), people were boycotting Kane. Since the film was based on William Randolph Hearst’s actions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he naturally was a huge sissy about it and wanted people to claim libel against Orson Welles. He even tried to get the film banned. Trying to ban a future classic – way to go Hearst! There’s more to this story but I got super bored while reading about it.

What was this post about? Right. How Green Was My Valley is not about the sexual adventures of a bunch of Zoolander-esque coal miners. Instead, it’s about their struggles in society, both at work and at home, and about a little boy who gets beat up all the time and tells their stories and stuff. It was a good enough movie that didn’t really grab me the way I had hoped.

Grade: C+

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How ‘Chariots of Fire’ Nearly Ruined My Life

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on February 7th, 2013 by Nick

chariots-of-fire-dvd-cover-60To start out this here review of 1981’s British historical drama Chariots of Fire, I’d like to grade it first and discuss it second.

Grade: F

Ouch. And I don’t mean the grade. I mean the snoozefest about two athletes in the 1924 olympics. I can honestly say that I gained absolutely nothing from watching this movie, and instead, lost two quality hours of my life that could have been better spent watching Reality TV, eating peanut butter from the jar with my hands gorilla style, or video taping my cat being all cat-like.

As if “stuffy British film” was ever a trite term, take it from me people: Chariots of Fire is the definition. So Eric Liddel and Harold Abrahams are both runners. One is a Scottish runner who runs for God’s glory or whatever, and the other is an English Jew running to overcome prejudice. (As if, “Holy shit, you won that race, and I fucking love Jews now!” would actually have happened and alleviated some asshole’s misconceptions). But they run. And run. And run some more. Even around their college once, attempting to beat some record. This is important because SPORTS.

If only I could look as cool when I run.

If only I could look as cool when I run.

Here is perhaps an area in which I am extremely biased. I enjoy playing sports, I enjoy watching winter Olympics, and I played like crazy as a youngster. But I don’t like the business of sports, and often claim that football, baseball, and insert-sport-name-here simply exist in our modern world in order to sell Miller Lite, and well hey, props to Miller Lite because beer is delicious. It’s just that sports and sports movies have a tendency of getting super preachy. And did I say stuffy yet?

Other thoughts:

If I was an actor, I’d probably look for roles that didn’t require running. Maybe running from a serial killer, or running to my car so I could be involved in some sickass chase scene, or maybe even running from the cops after my character’s involvement in a heist, but running just to run? I’d probably avoid that.

The most notable thing about this movie is its super-amazing score, which made me feel both incredibly stupid, yet also enlightened. It was the uber-“THAT’S WHERE THAT COMES FROM???” moment. Now, I’m 28 and not that young or old, but I think if I polled a sample of my peers, they wouldn’t really know the origin of this music either, so yeah, I guess I’m pretty OK with admitting my shock and amazement. Chariots of Fire’s score was done by Greek composer Vangelis, who won the Academy Award for it, naturally. Hear it below:

RIGHT!? Mind blown. I will feel even more moronic the next time I watch the decathlon scene from Old School. I’m sure I’ll gloat about knowing where the music comes from though, because hey, my horse is high. “You mean you don’t know?!” Look, I’m watching every single Best Picture winner in the history of forever. I’ve got to get props from somewhere, right? Even if it’s mostly from patting myself on the back.

In closing, I loathed this movie. More so than I loathed Out of Africa. That’s saying a lot, in my opinion.

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