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Sunday, February 18, 2018

12 Oscar nominated movies you can watch on your couch tonight with Netflix, Amazon and HBO

Get Out
The all out most discussed picture of last year is nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay (which it will likely win.)

James Mangold's modern Western that elevated the superhero genre to new heights and made audiences forget it was a comic-book movie. Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character finally got the movie it deserved and it's bloody good. Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Kong: Skull Island
Pick a side. It's Kong vs. Planet of the Apes vs. Blade Runner for this year's Best Visual Effects Oscar.


The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon wrote the script about their relationship and Nanjiani stars as himself in one of last year's funniest and most touching films. It is nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail 

Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) showcases a family-owned bank in New York’s Chinatown that became the one and only bank in the U.S. to be prosecuted for mortgage fraud after the 2008 financial meltdown. Its story is the opposite of "too big to fail." Abacus is nominated for Best Documentary Feature. It's more captivating than this week's Shark Tank episodes for sure.


This American tale, set in Mississippi in the 1940s, is nominated for four Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Song and Best Cinematography. Mary J. Blige just made Oscar history as the first person ever to be nominated for an acting performance and an original song in a single year.

If you've been watching the Winter Olympics, see the game-changing film that altered this year's events. This documentary began as an investigation into doping cyclists, but jumps off course once it stumbles into international conspiracy. It's dope; Icarus is nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.

Beauty and the Beast
It's a tale as old as time. At the very least it's as old as the live-action adaption of the 1991 musical, the first animated film to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. This Beauty is nominated for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. Its song, "Everymore," was snubbed for Best Original Song.

On Body and Soul
Two co-workers meet, fall in love and realize they've been sharing the same dreams at night. It sure sounds dreamy, right? But it's not. Endre and Maria work at a slaughterhouse and the film is more eerie than romantic. This Hungarian film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.

Boss Baby
People were bawling over this nomination for Best Animated Feature, but don't expect Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel to make it a running joke during the telecast. He did the voicework for the father role.

Last Men in Aleppo
Similarly themed to last year's winning White Helmets, this film follows members of the volunteer group White Helmets offer aid to the wounded during the Syrian civil war. It is nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

Strong Island
This documentary investigates a 1992 murder in New York seeks answers and justice. It was nominated for Best Documentary Feature this year.

Didn't see a film that captured your interest and have a few bucks to spend? You can rent or buy these films tonight as well.

Lady Bird
A likely spoiler in most every major category. (YouTubeVuduAmazon VideoiTunesGoogle Play). Buy now or rent Feb 27.

Three Billboards Out of Ebbing, Missouri
My favorite from the year. (YouTubeVudu,Amazon VideoiTunesGoogle Play)
Buy now or rent Feb 27.

Darkest Hour
Nominated for many awards including Best Picture and Best Actor. Expect Gary Oldman to win. (YouTubeiTunesVuduGoogle PlayAmazon Video). Currently available for purchase only.

Nominated for eight Oscars and will likely win two in the sound category. (YouTubeiTunesVuduGoogle Play, Amazon Video)

The Florida Project
One of the most moving films of last year. William Dafoe could upset and win Best Supporting Actor for his fine work in this unforgettable film. (YouTubeiTunesVuduGoogle Play, Amazon Video)

Baby Driver
Nominated for for Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Film Editing and will likely steal one of those.(YouTubeVuduGoogle PlayiTunes, Amazon Video).

Loving Vincent
125 artists cranked out 65,000 frames’ worth of oil paintings for this feature on Vincent van Gogh that was nominated for Best Animated Feature. (Google PlayYouTubeiTunesVudu, Amazon Video)

War For The Planet of the Apes
See the film that will beat Blade Runner 2024 for Best Visual Effects. (YouTubeiTunesVuduGoogle PlayAmazon Video)

The Square
Nominated for Best Foreign Film, this frontrunner made all the rounds last year. (Google PlayYouTubeiTunesVuduAmazon Video)

Friday, February 16, 2018

2018 Oscar themed dishes for your watching party

The 90th annual Academy Awards offer an excuse to showcase your creativity and delight your party guests. Here are some winning ideas to get you started.

The Shape of Sushi
Unless you’ve seen Best Picture nominee The Shape of Water, you may not be convinced that a human can fall in love with a sea creature. However, it’s easy to heart a nori-seaweed-filled sushi roll surprise when it's shaped like this. Recipe suggestion below.

The Post-cereal Parfait
Extra! Extra! You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg to have a vision of how delicious and easy this salty/sweet mix (popcorn, strawberry gelatin, peanuts and Post® Waffle Crisp cereal) can be. Link to the Post® brand recipe below.

Call Me By Your Name Peaches 'n Cream Pops
These peach pops, with a creamy surprise inside, will soon be calling your name. Pack ice cream and a popsicle stick into 3-ounce disposable cups and freeze. Unwrap and place into 6-ounce cups filled with peach puree. Freeze. Unwrap and enjoy during an Italian summer or Oscar-watching party. Recipe link below. Later!

Mexican Hot Coco Cupcakes
Chili powder provides the heat in treats that will animate your guests enough to sing Remember Me,the Oscar-nominated song from Coco. Recipe suggestion below.

Lady Bird party wafers
Don't worry, they're unconsecrated. Layer Cavanagh® brand crackers cream cheese, cucumber and salmon for a grown-up taste. Serve with your favorite unconsecrated wine.

Killer Mushroom Omelette
No need to start the day with a sour breakfast. Celebrate Best Picture nominee Phantom Thread with this sick omelette, tailor made for Oscar night fun.

Sunken Place Tea
Get out your fine China and serve your guests a hot tea surprise. Don't forget the silver spoon to stir things up.

A Fantastic Chili
Celebrate Chile's A Fantastic Woman, nominated for Best Foreign Picture, with vegie black bean chili - a hearty contribution to any party. Men and women will both love it.

Three Pizzas from St. Louis, Missouri
Deliver the goods with three St. Louis style pizzas that are so tasty, your guests will want to buy billboards just to thank you. I'm ordering mine from IMO'S. Its paper thin crust and uniquely creamy Provel cheese (a combo of swiss, provolone, and cheddar) is unforgettable. Just don't forget to cut pieces into squares, as they do in Missouri.

Good luck with your Oscar-watching party everyone! Try these recipe links:

The Shape of Sushi
Here's one helpful recipe: Japan Centre

The Post-cereal Parfait
Credit: Recipe by: Post®

Call Me By Your Name Peaches 'n Cream Pops
Try these:

Mexican Hot Coco Cupcakes
Try this one:

Lady Bird wafer cracker and spread
You'll need these:

Get Out tea may not impress as much as this:

Fantastic chili recipes
One for the vegetarians:

Three Pizzas from St. Louis, Missouri (IMO's)
Make your own:

Or have it delivered from Missouri to you:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Knife Skills

"I had the chance to help somebody else for once, instead of hurting someone."

With one too many serious things in my news feed this week, I had very little palate for an Oscar nominated documentary about violence, race relations or mortgage fraud. That path of elimination led me to stream Knife Skills, a delicious little doc that follows the hectic launch of a sophisticated French restaurant in Cleveland—one that will be staffed entirely by ex-convicts with little to no formal culinary training.

Dozens of unseasoned cooks. 25 dishes. 6 weeks. If that sounds like a Food Network reality show, it's not. If it sounds like an inspirational story, it is. Knife Skills received an Oscar nomination for 2018 Best Documentary Short.

Viewers will come to know three inmates intimately, as well as the restaurant's founder, Brandon Chrostowski, an ex-con himself. Chrostowski was facing five to ten years when a judge granted him leniency and a one-year sentence of probation instead. He chose to educate himself in the culinary arts and reach a place in his life where he could pay it forward with a restaurant that would give others a second chance.

Skills is a compelling, inspirational and human story about how people who don't fit in can make the best of a second chance. It's a treat to know about the genesis of this special place.

The story reminded and encouraged me to support a somewhat similar concept — downtown Dallas' Cafe Momentum. — Chad Houser's New American restaurant that doubles as a nonprofit helping at-risk youths learn culinary skills. Check that out too.

Grab something delicious to eat and stream this 40-minute course on humanity. You can find it on iTunes for $2.99, or watch it for free here:

In a nutshell: Inspiring and forkin' refreshing.

Award potential: Filmmaker Thomas Lennon earned his fourth nomination for Knife Skills, which also won the audience award at the Traverse City Film Festival. His other Oscar nominated films include The Warriors of Qiugang, The Battle Over Citizen Kane and winner The Blood of Yingzhou District. Serving up the lightest subject matter of the bunch, Knife Skills won't win him another Oscar this year, but there's always another chance.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Phantom Thread

From The Master to a masterpiece. 

I delayed watching director Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread as if it were a chore. Although Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood are each one of the greatest films of their decades, the last films I've seen from him have been some of the worst of this decade. 

I walked out of Inherent Vice, and The Master was one of the most unfulfilling two hours I've had in a cineplex, despite starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.

That was a mistake on my part. Phantom Thread is the most ravishing film of this past year.

Daniel Day-Lewis plays eccentric dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, whose clientele inhabit London's fashion scene in the 1950's. The film invites viewers into the lavish world of not only Woodcock and his meticulously prepared meals, but into the lives of everyone around him including his socialite clients, his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) and Alma (Vicky Krieps), a woman who might change everything. It's a romance that explores the exchange of power in relationships and how people tailor themselves to those they love. It never falls to predictability, nor is it ambiguous. And yes, you'll squirm.

Mark Bridges’ costume designs are a stunning sideshow, showcasing the silky elegant dresses that his women clientele describe as items that "will give me courage,” and the lavish interiors of Woodcock’s townhouse play a strong supporting role to those pieces. Plus, Jonny Greenwood's jazz-inflected score perfectly compliments the era. That's right, Paul Thomas Anderson has gone full Merchant Ivory and it's phenomenal.

In a nutshell: Phantom Thread will demand your hushed concentration, but it's not a date movie.

Award potential: Phantom Thread was nominated for a total of six Oscars recently. I expect it will win one. 

Daniel Day-Lewis wears the role as if it's a custom suit, but this is Gary Oldman's (Darkest Hour) year, and Greenwoods' sensible jazz score will fall victim to Alexander Desplat's splashy one for The Shape of Water. However, rarely has a costume designer's work been as center-stage as Mark Bridges'. I can't imagine a loss for Best Costume.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


best documentary movies
A game-changer.

Throughout his career, cyclist Lance Armstrong passed over 250 drug tests with flying colors. As we now know, that status does not mean that he didn't dope. Director and cyclist Bryan Fogel decided to game the system the same way, and capture it in an undercover documentary.

Early into his documentary, Fogel meets an unlikely comrade in his search — Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Russian anti-doping program, who helps him use performance-enhancing drugs without getting caught.

As you may know from the news, Rodchenkov designed a doping system that gave the Russian Olympians a hidden advantage. The story, that began as an investigation into doping cyclists, jumps off course into a story of international conspiracy that includes a whistleblower who points a finger towards Vladimir Putin, who ordered and oversaw Rodchenkov's program.

When one of the whistleblower's colleagues dies suspiciously, the documentary picks up speed as a thriller. And it is thrilling. We don't find out why the participants agreed to be captured on film, but the audience is there for the ride.

As the story unfolds, Fogel wisely shifts the focus away from himself and this original quest to let viewers glimpse into the world of the oversized, true-life character Rodchenkov. It's dope; Icarus was nominated this week for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.

In a nutshell: From start to a big finish, Icarus is an illuminating documentary about international athletics.

Award potential: Already nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, Icarus faces tough competition with Faces Places and the Last Men in Aleppo

However, Icarus could win. While nominations are made by just the documentary brandh, every Academy member (including actors) votes on the Oscar. Being easily accessible on Netflix helps it get seen and discussed by others. That's not cheating, right?

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Monday, January 22, 2018

2018 Oscar Nominations - Predictions

Why wake up early Tuesday morning when you can get a good look at most of the noms now? WIthout, ahem, touting The Ten Buck Review's 83% accuracy rate too many times, the likely nominees are:


Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour 
I, Tonya 

Get Out 
Lady Bird 
The Florida Project 
The Post 
The Shape of Water 
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Spoiler: A Fantastic Woman, which is building fantastic raves around voting time
Sorry: The Big Sick, comedies from summer don't usually make the list.


Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird 
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Spoiler: Sean Baker, The Florida Project, Oscar may love you more than other groups
Sorry: Stephen Spielberg, The Post, too many newcomers to choose from


Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Spoiler: Tom Hanks, The Post, you're so consistently good it's hard to notice but you could take Franco of Kaluuya's spot
Sorry: Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq., it's not your year


Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Meryl Streep, The Post

Spoiler, Diane Kruger, In the Fade, her role is doing anything but
Sorry: Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project, those five don't hve much room for you


Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World 
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name

Spoiler: Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sorry: Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name, I'm betting on a surprise swap. Your sunny good looks might was lighter than Stuhlbarg's strong speech.


Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Spoiler: Kristen Scott Thomas, Darkest Hour, you shoulda been there in Octavia's spot

Sorry: Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip, it's not an Oscar film

Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
Molly's Game, Aaron Sorkin 
Mudbound, Dee Rees and Virgil Williams 
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber 
Wonder Woman, Jason Fuchs, Allan Heinberg and Zack Snyder

Spoiler: Victoria & Abdul, Lee Hall, her highness' words could take out Wonder Woman
Sorry: Logan, Scott Frank, Michael Green and James Mangold, you shoulda been there

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh 
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig 
Get Out, Jordan Peele
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor 

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani

Spoiler: The Post, Liz Hannah and Josh Singer,but I don't know what it could replace
Sorry: I, Tonya, Steven Rogers, thanks for trying


The Breadwinner 
Loving Vincent 
The Boss Baby 
Despicable Me 3 
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
City of Ghosts 
Long Strange Trip 
Strong Island 

Spoiler: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, a lot of people have seen it, but sequels are a tough sell — and it wasn't as good as the Oscar-winning original

A Fantastic Woman, Chile 
Foxtrot, Israel
In the Fade, Germany
Loveless, Russia 
The Square, Sweden 

Blade Runner 2049 
Darkest Hour 
The Shape of Water 

Phantom Thread 
Beauty and the Beast 
Darkest Hour 
Murder on the Orient Express 
The Greatest Showman 

Baby Driver 
I, Tonya 
The Shape of Water 
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Darkest Hour 
I, Tonya 

Darkest Hour 
Phantom Thread 

The Post 
The Shape of Water 

"Evermore,” Beauty and The Beast, Performed by Dan Stevens
"Remember Me," Coco, Performed by Miguel & Natalia Lafourcade
"Stand Up for Something,” Marshall, Performed by Andra Day and Common
"The Mystery of Love," Call Me by Your Name, Performed by Sufjan Stevens
"This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman, Performed by Keala Settle

Blade Runner 2049 

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour

The Shape of Water

Baby Driver 
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars: The Last Jedi 
The Shape of Water 

Blade Runner 2049 
Star Wars: The Last Jedi 
The Shape of Water 
Wonder Woman

Blade Runner 2049

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Star Wars: The Last Jedi 
War for the Planet of the Apes

And the total tally will look something like this:
Shape, 11 nominations
Dunkirk, 9 nominations
Darkest Hour, 7 nominations
Three Billboards, 6 nominations
I, Tonya, 5 nominations
Lady Bird, 5 nominations 
Wonder Woman, 1 nominations

Good luck to all.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

I, Tonya

Oscar nominee predictions 2018
As the title I Tonya suggests, the infamous Harding was the key witness to the most bizarre period of professional ice skating history, and anyone watching this film should prepare to hear her version of the truth to that story.

Hollywood starlet Margot Robbie disappears into the role of Harding, an athletic performer who never fit into the mold of ice skating princess. It's why she was too often compared to competitor Nancy Kerrigan, and it's why we root for this "white trash" underdog throughout this film.

More than a TV story of the week, it's a crafted comedy with some serious subjects. Harding was a victim of abuse by her mother, her husband, and us, as the film is clear to point out while wagging its finger at the audience. I,Tonya simultaneously asks us to root for this American athlete with the raw skills to be a champion, while begging us to laugh at her life and the people who surrounded her. It's a confusing space for the viewer.

Director Craig Gillespie shot this film as if it's a documentary, which did make me wish I was watching one. While full of strong performances and guilt-filled laughs, it's an enjoyable but slight film.

In a nutshell: An entertaining but forgettable film, where a documentary would have been just fine.

Award potential: The mother-daughter performances will bot be rewarded with nominations, but I don't predict much else for Oscars. Allison Janney, as Tonya's mom LaVona steals every scene she's in. Her over-the-top performance will be in a tight race with a quieter (and more touching) mother-daughter performance, Laurie Metcalf's performance in Lady Bird.

The Ten Buck Review: It's a wild story. Worth ten bucks.