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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The seven films you need to see before Oscar Night

Since you can’t watch all 60 nominated films between January 22 and February 22, which movies do you need to see before the events of Oscar night play out?

Oh Boy! Watch two Best Picture nominees the comfort of your home

1. Boyhood, the coming of age drama from Richard Linklater, is the front-runner for Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actress. It could easily win Best Film Editing and Original Screenplay too. Everyone has a strong opinion on this film, so it’s a must for Oscar Night discussions.(Total 6 nominations and available for purchase or to stream).


2. The Grand Budapest Hotel ties Birdman for the most nominations this year, including Best Picture and Best Director so it will come up in multiple categories. Check in and check it out tonight. (Total 9 nominations and available for purchase or to stream)

Will Oscar Night be about a Boy or Bird?

3. Birdman ties Budapest for the most nominations but it is neck-and-neck with the equally-innovative Boyhood for all the big prizes: Picture, Director and Original Screenplay. Simply put, you need to see Boyhood and Birdman. (Total 9 nominations and in theaters at this writing.)

See the give-it-everything performance of the year

4. The Theory Of Everything is a front runner for Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne) and Score.Redmayne will win the Golden Globe and SAG awards, but Michael Keaton might be rewarded by The Academy, who does such things for well-loved Hollywood icons who return in peak form. You won't be able to join in that debate unless you've seen this fantastic performance. (Total 5 nominations and in theaters at this writing)

Watch the movie with the clearest shot to upset
5. American Sniper, the Clint Eastwood-directed film about U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle starring Bradley Cooper, received nominations for Best Actor, Picture, Adapted Screenplay and more. If there is a upset next month, it will be this from this movie that is peaking at just the right time. (Total 6 nominations and in theaters at this writing)

Watch Whiplash while it’s still in the theater

6. Whiplash's J.K. Simmons is likely to win Best Supporting Actor, although there is quality competition from almost everyone nominated, which makes for a fun Oscar Night category. I just think you need to see the music come to life from this Best Picture nominee on the big screen instead of hearing everyone tell you that you “should go see this film.” (Total 5 nominations and in theaters at this writing.)

There are a lot of good films you can save until after the awards: The Imitation Game is one of my favorites, but it won’t win anything in a year where innovative films triumph over traditional ones. Julianne Moore is a lock, so you can mark her on your ballot and wait for Still Alice. Selma will take Best Song, but not Picture. Rarely does a fine movie like Foxcatcher win awards like Best Director without a Best Picture nomination. And since the potential upset winner for Best Foreign Language Film, Leviathan, just left local Dallas theaters, I’d recommend that you... the Best Foreign Language Film front runner at home

7. Ida is streaming on Netflix now. This black and white film is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film…and, wow, Best Cinematography too. (Total 2 nominations and streaming on Netflix.)

Worth ten bucks: Quite obviously, all of them are each ten buck worthy.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inherent Vice

Joaquin Phoenix plays a California dick. Paul Thomas Anderson is one.

This film, adapted from Thomas Pynchon's novel and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, The Master), could have been the next The Big Leboski. But I'm more reminded of Twin Peaks: Fire: Walk With Me, the movie where director David Lynch took advantage of his prestige and his audience by serving stylistic indulgences without delivering a story. That's what PTA has done, and I'm offended. 

Joaquin Phoenix plays P.I. Larry ''Doc'' Sportello in a 1970's California-noir detective story that never pays off. It doesn't event try.  

Simply put: How this film got made is more of a real mystery than the movie contains.

Award potential: Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Costume Design Oscars. I assume the Academy members walked out sooner than I did.

The ten buck review: Not worth your time or ten bucks.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Best Foreign Film predictions 2015
While it is shot in black and white, Ida is anything but.

Yesterday, Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida was nominated for Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography. It’s rare for an international and subtitled film to be nominated in any category other than the designated foreign one. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and City of God are some of the more recent films to have received this honor for Best Cinematography. Adding to that distinction, this is a black and white film. The only modern black and white film to have won the cinematography category was Schindler’s List.

Clearly, this film is something special. While it is shot in black and white, its story is anything but. It has much to say about the realities of postwar Communism. And it entertains like a road trip movie unlike any you’ve ever seen.

Anna, an orphan and nun in 1960s Poland, is charged with exploring her background before taking her irrevocable vows. A road trip with her one existing relative leads to secrets about her personal past as well as broader revelations about Poland’s history.

The best supporting character to this story is certainly the sharp monochrome cinematography that puts you into the world of 1962. If I didn’t know better, I would easily believe that Ida is a rediscovered classic more than a film from 2014.

Simply put: At only eighty minutes long, Ida should please any fan of foreign films.

Award potential: Depends on if it gets seen. It’s the frontrunner for Best Foreign Film, but it has lots of competition. Argentina’s Wild Tales and Russia’s Leviathan have lots of supporters and non-Holocaust plotlines.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks. It is available on Netflix at this writing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Boys, Birds and Nerds: Oscar Nominee Predictions 2015

alan eskew dallas oscars
Take these to Vegas: 7 nominations for Birdman and The Imitation Game. 6 for Boyhood and Grand Budapest Hotel — plus many more for a bunch of nerds.

Best Picture 

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
If they choose ten: Foxcatcher

Best Director
Ava Duvernay, Selma
Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Spoiler: Damien Chazelle,Whiplash, is a sound bet. 
Shocker: With all these new names, perhaps there is room for Clint Eastwood, American Sniper 

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Spoiler: Gyllenhaal is the front runner, but Bradley Cooper is a hit on Broadway and impressing in American Sniper and could take Gyllenhaal's spot. Steve Carell would be a better bet if he was in the supporting role for Foxcatcher
Shocker: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner, could be that "out of nowhere" surprise on Oscar morning

Best Actress
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Jennifer Aniston, Cake,
Spoiler:  Amy Adams (Big Eyes) could easily slide into TV star Aniston's slot

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Spoiler:  Not many options. Carrell should have entered in this category. I'll go with Miyavi, who stole scenes in Unbroken

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Spoiler:  Laura Dern played a memorable mom in Wild (and in The Fault In Her Stars). She could take Knightley's spot.
Shocker: Rene Russo, Nightcrawler

Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Shocker: Wild could displace Whiplash, which was removed from Original Screenplay category by the Academy.
Spoiler: Unbroken (There were two writers before the Coens took over.)

Original Screenplay
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Spoiler: Foxcatcher

Animated Feature
Lego Movie
How To Train Dragon 2
Big Hero 6
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Spoiler: I'd bet on the inventive The Book of Life to take the Boxtrolls' spot.

Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales
Force Majeure
Spoiler:  Tangerines could take the place of Timbuktu, the first film ever submitted from Mauritania for the award

Mr. Turner
Unbroken Roger Deakin (overdue honor)
Spoiler: The Theory of Everything or American Sniper

Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Immigrant
Into The Woods
Mr. Turner
Spoiler: If Selma builds up a sweep across many categories, this will be one of them.

Film Editing
The Imitation Game
Spoiler:  Interstellar or a Selma sweep
Shocker: Unbroken would be a shocker since Goldenberg was brought in to shorten Squyres' project.

Production Design
Into The Woods
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Spoiler: Unbroken, Selma, Mr. Turner, The Theory of Everything

Makeup and Hairstyling
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Spoiler:  Guardians of the Galaxy

Original Score
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Gone Girl
Spoiler: Big Eyes    
Shocker: It won't be Birdman, that frontrunner was declared ineligible.

Original Song
I’m Not Gonna Miss You, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Everything Is Awesome, The LEGO Movie
Glory, Selma
Lost Stars, Begin Again
Yellow Flicker Beat, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
Spoiler: Big Eyes, Big Eyes, Mercy Is, Noah, Miracles, Unbroken

Sound Editing
Spoiler: Intro the Woods Fury

Sound Mixing
American Sniper
Guardians of the Galaxy
Spoiler:  The Hobbit or Into The Woods

Visual Effects
Dawn of Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galxy
Spoiler:  Godzilla, isn’t he always

Documentary Feature
Keep On Keepin’ On
Last Days in Vietnam
Life Itself
Spoiler: Finding Vivian Maier

Documentary Short
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
The Lion’s Mouth Opens
The Reaper (La Parka)
White Earth,
Spoiler: Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace