OSCAR BREAKDOWN 2K15

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It’s been a really strong year in regards to my apathy about award shows. I didn’t even finish watching the Golden Globes, and if I did watch the Emmys, I completely forgot it. This is good for me! Awards don’t matter, after all, unless it’s the Jackson Hole Elementary Spelling Bee Award, of which I am a proud recipient.

But, as there is no Nobel Prize for film and I have no way of getting to Cannes to give my personal opinion on what should win the Palme d’Or, so I talk about the Oscars instead. Heeeeere we go.


Nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

My Pick: If the gods are good, Birdman.

What I’d Like To Win: Birdman!

The heat of the debate in the Oscar-invested community is whether or not Linklater’s “TOUR DE FORCE” (a term I loathe, much like this movie!) Boyhood is going to take the golden man, or Iñárritu’s fascinating, complex character piece Birdman will.

By, uh. By description alone you can tell what I’m rooting for.

Both films were small, intimate pieces, that both had massive concepts behind them; Boyhood, with it’s twelve years of filmmaking, and Birdman, with it’s long, single-takes shots, seamlessly weaved together. However, when you take the concepts out and look at the individual elements of the film side by side, one clearly towers over the other in terms of quality and entertainment. Birdman has a vibrant cast who pour their heart and souls to their character, much like their characters pour their hearts and souls at each other. The script itself also weaves in with the one-take concept, considering it’s about the staging of a play which, in their own way, are done in “one take”. The movie feels like a play, which is why the concept works so well. However, the film would also work well without the concept.

Boyhood, on the other hand, has a striking concept as well, but the script fails to elevate it to any other level other than “IT TOOK SO LONG TO FILM LOOK!!!” which just reads as sort of manipulative, to me. The lead character is so incredibly drab it makes the movie hard to sit through. The dialogue is all things that been explored in previous Linklater films, and I just…. I just don’t care. At all. That’s it.

I’d be pretty okay if The Grand Budapest Hotel won as well, since Wes Anderson is awesome and he should be universally recognized as such.

There’s also another minor controversy in the Best Picture category, regarding the fact that only 8/10 slots for nominations are filmed. And I guess they just decided to… ignore Gone GirlA Most Violent Year… Foxcatcher et cetera… but, what’cha gonna do. Last year I was upset that they snubbed Inside Llewyn Davis, and now I’m realizing that the Academy just actually doesn’t care about our feelings.

I mean, they nominated American Sniper for BEST PICTURE. That really just says it all, doesn’t it?

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Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel,  Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game

My Pick: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman

What I’d Like To Win: Iñárritu, no contest, but it would actually be really nice to see Wes get his!

As someone who has always championed technicality and artistry, Iñárritu is the clear frontrunner in my head. The amount of detail, dynamics, and complexities shown through the direction alone in Birdman is unparalleled by anything this year.

But of course, instead of painstaking attention to detail and fascinating camera work, the Academy is probably just going to give it to fucking Linklater, because IT TOOK TWELVE YEARS THAT’S SO LONG WOW!!! (Even though I can only take so many medium shots before I want to actually burn down the movie theater).

Still, my official pick is going to be Alejandro because for some reason I still have hope that the Academy will actually do right by me, truly showcasing my naivety.

It would be nice to see Wes Anderson get an Oscar for best director, but at this point it’s just sort of giving him one out of consolation for having such a unique and interesting style all these years. If he won, I wouldn’t be mad about it.

Also I can’t really fathom how Morten Tyldum (Imitation Game) is nominated over Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and  Ava DuVernay (Selma) but I mean, at least it’s not Clint Eastwood.

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Nominees: Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne

My Pick: Michael Keaton

Who I’d Like To Win: Michael Keaton

If you guys didn’t know, I kind of liked the movie Birdman. That says it all about my choice.

Keaton’s biggest competitor so far this award season has been Eddie Redmayne however, who definitely showcased his ability in The Theory of Everything. He did a terrific job. But it was nowhere near as nuanced as Keaton’s. But the possibility of Eddie getting the award is incredibly high because what they say about actors playing people with disabilities getting Oscars is actually 100% true.

There were a lot of snubs in this category. Namely,  Jake Gyllenhaal who was absolutely electrifying in Nightcrawler, as well as David Oyelowo (Selma) and Ralph Fiennes (Grand Budapest) who were both completely washed over in lieu of Bradley Cooper who… I mean, he’s a fine actor and all but did you really, really have to nominate him? DID YOU REALLY? The Academy is shoving American Sniper down my throat and I can’t stand it.

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Nominees:  Marion Cotillard, Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore, Rosamund Pike, Reese Witherspoon

My Pick: Julianne Moore

Who I’d Like To Win: Rosamund Pike

You know what they say. Play someone with an illness or disability and you get an Oscar. Not to dig on Julianne Moore because she is a consistently great actress, but when they give her an award this year, it will really be more of a lifetime achievement award than the Best Actress of Last Year. Still Alice was a fine movie (I didn’t talk about it in my catch up reviews, mostly because I was watching it while I was writing them), and she did a really really good job, but… Rosamund was still better, in my eyes. She was pretty much the sole reason I went back to see Gone Girl so many times, because her interpretation of that now infamous character was just so, so stellar.

Oh well.

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Nominees: Robert Duvall, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo, J.K. Simmons

My Pick: J.K. Simmons

What I’d Like To Win: Ed, Mark, or J.K.

Man, Whiplash was a freakin’ awesome movie.

Also this might be the category I hate the least! None of these people bothered me! I mean Ethan Hawke has never been my guy but I actually also didn’t hate him in Boyhood either. The thing I hated about Boyhood was the boy, which wasn’t really his fault, so y’know.

J.K. Simmons gonna win though, don’t even fool yourself into thinking anything different.

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Nominees: Patricia Arquette, Laura Dern, Keira Knightly, Emma Sone, Meryl Streep

My Pick: Patricia Arquette

What I’d Like To Win: Emma Stone

I’m actually okay with Patricia Arquette winning for Boyhood because she was the sole reason I didn’t smash my face into my computer while watching that bland, palaver-filled nonsense.

Emma was really good in Birdman though, and convinced me she was actually a real actress and not your run of the mill teen drama girl, so that was cool.

I don’t know why Keira Knightly is nominated at all because her performance wasn’t exactly life changing, but I guess slim pickings this year? Whatever.

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Nominees: Citizenfour, Finding Vivian Maier, Last Days in Vietnam, The Salt of the Earth, Virunga

My Pick: Citizenfour

What I’d Like To Win: I dunno. Whatever. My favorite doc of the year wasn’t even nominated, so.

Admittedly I didn’t watch every documentary this year, but I did watch Citizenfour, which is apparently the front runner. It makes sense because it’s definitely the most topical documentary out of this particular bunch, and it was some really compelling stuff.

I’m pretty sad my Jodorowsky doc didn’t make the cut, but I think even documentaries about him are too abstract for the Academy to handle. Understandably so.

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Nominees: Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, The Tale of Princess Kaguya

My Pick: How to Train Your Dragon 2

What I’d Like To Win: The Lego Movie :(((

The Academy Awards do not give a single fuck about animated films. This is common knowledge. I didn’t even see How to Train Your Dragon 2 but it’s probably gonna win because it’s the one with the most buzz around it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave it to the Disney vehicle like they have for the past two years, though.

The Lego Movie and The Book of Life got screwed. F you, Academy. I thought I trusted you with the Animated Feature category after Rango won in 2011 but you’ve spit in my face since then, and you should be ashamed.

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Nominees: Ida, Leviathan, Tangerines, Timbuktu, Wild Talkes

My Pick: Ida

What I’d Like To Win: Is it too early for Xavier Dolan’s Mommy to win? Yes? #MOMMY2K16

I didn’t brush up on my Foreign films this year, whoops. Hollywood Reporter says Ida, I’ll just go with them.

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Nominees:  American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Whiplash

My Pick: Boyhood

What I’d Like To Win: Whiplash god damn!!!

I can’t believe American Sniper is nominated, that is actually laughable.

Anyway the editing was probably the best part Boyhood so I guess they’re gonna win, even though Whiplash’s cuts were soooo well executed, god DAMN.

And I’m actually offended and appalled that Gone Girl wasn’t nominated for editing but I’m starting to learn that life just isn’t fair.

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Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Into the Woods, Mr. Turner

My Pick: Grand Budapest

What I’d Like To Win: Grand Budapest

Say what you want about Wes Anderson & his team of pals, but they know how to design a fucking set. Outstanding as usual, corporeal.

Though the design in Interstellar was the best part of the movie, and the design in Into the Woods was absolutely 100% perfect and true to the musical, so either of those winning would be A-okay with me as well.

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Nominees: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ida, Mr. Turner, Unbroken

My Pick: Birdman

What I’d Like To Win: Birdman do not even talk to me right now

Look we can all appreciate Wes Anderson and his color schemes and flawless symmetry but don’t mess with me on this one aight thanks bye

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Nominees: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, X-Men: Days of Future Past

My Pick: Intersellar

What I’d Like To Win: This is a fun category!!! Let’s make everything win!!

2014 was an awesome year for popcorn movies, you guys. Cap 2, the new Apes movie, Guardians… all of those movies were like, wonderful. I felt more emotions in Captain America 2 than I did for Boyhood, and Cap 2 was a freakin’ huge studio blockbuster while Boyhood was the small indie arthouse thing. Like, what parallel universe have I stumbled into?

As this category is for visual effects though, I’m gonna have to go with Nolan. Good stuff this year, bros.

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Nominees: Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy

My Pick: Grand Budapest

What I’d Like To Win: They were all good, and I’m really not picky about makeup.

I dunno, I liked Tilda Swinton’s getup and Saoirse’s birthmark shaped like Mexico. Steve Carell’s nose was pretty fun though.

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Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inherent Vice, Into the Woods, Maleficent, Mr. Turner

My Pick: Grand Budapest

What I’d Like To Win: Grand Budapest

Not picky about this category either, but dem colors!!

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Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Mr. Turner, The Theory of Everything

My Pick: The Theory of Everything

What I’d Like To Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel, but only because my fav’s weren’t nominated.

This category wins the Oscar for “Category Maddison Hates the Most this Year” because Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross’s soundtrack for Gone Girl was a pivotal factor in why that movie worked so well and they didn’t even nominate it. Also, Birdman’s score was completely out there and AWESOME and yet of course The Academy are gonna go with the safe route, picking whatever sounds the closest to a John Williams score (not to dig on him because Jurassic Park is my shit) because they’re boring old white people who don’t actually know anything about music.

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Nominees: The Lego Movie, Selma, Beyond the Lights, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, Begin Again

My Pick: Glory, Selma

What I’d Like To Win: Glory or…. EVERYTHING IS AWESOMMMEE!!!

I’m picking Glory because Common is the shit.

If Everything is Awesome wins, though, then The Lonely Island will be on their way to an EGOT which would I think just be a big boost in morale for this country.

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Nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Interstellar, Unbroken

My Pick: American Sniper

What I’d Like To Win: I dunno, Birdman I guess ‘cuz I like that movie best.

For a space movie, Interstellar’s sound was wweeeeirdly off-par, especially when you compare it to last year’s Gravity. Dunno why it’s nominated, but whatever.

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Nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar, Unbroken, Whiplash

My Pick:  Whiplash

What I’d Like To Win: Whiplash

Too bad Into the Woods isn’t nominated, I thought their mix was swell; plus it’s pretty hard to pull off a musical that effectively. Whiplash’s mix was DOPE though so I’m hoping for a win there–though it’s a competition between that and American Propaganda Sniper.

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Nominees: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

My Pick:  The Imitation Game

What I’d Like To Win:  Inherent Vice because that’s actually just great that it’s nominated honestly. Go PTA!

Cannot believe

they nominated

the bullshit script

that was American Sniper

over Gone Girl

that is just

obscene

No lie, Gone Girl was maybe my favorite screenplay of the entire year and they just…. wow. Wow. Wooow. Wow. I try so hard not to buy into the “The Academy is Sexist!!!” thing but this shit…

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Nominees: Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler

My Pick: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What I’d Like To Win: ANYTHING BUT BOYHOOD. RE-NOMINATE AMERICAN HUSTLE FROM LAST YEAR, I WOULD RATHER SEE THAT WIN THAN THE DRAB, DISCONNECTED, STONER-WISDOM SPOUTING NONSENSE THAT WAS BOYHOOD

Please Wes. Crush Linklater. Just crush him.


Welp, that’s it for my picks. Who will win? Who’s speech will move us to tears? When will all the existing Academy members will die? What alien species will overrun our planet first? Time will tell!

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2014 Review Catch Up!

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So I didn’t post a lot on this blog in 2014. I don’t really have an excuse for that, because I saw a lot of movies, and if anything, my opinions on things become more and more polarized to the point where I should write about them, just as an exercise in getting pent up frustrations out. However, I did not, and as the Oscars are this Sunday, I figured I’d  take a look back at some of the films I saw in 2014 and didn’t review. Don’t fret–I’ll also be doing an Oscar breakdown at some point later, but I thought it was important to first get my feelings about these films out of the way, in chronological order. I’m also gonna leave out some of the smaller films I saw–we’ll just focus on the ones that got the most press this year.


The Lego Movie

I was so hyped for this film last year. I don’t even know where the hype came from, but it honestly didn’t disappoint me in the slightest. The only real negative thing that could be said about The Lego Movie is that story wise, it isn’t the most innovative (chosen one gets the thing to save the world), but in a way even that plays into how great it is. It’s one of the most meta animated films I’ve ever seen, but who could expect anything less from the creative minds of Chris Miller & Phil Lord. I’ve never really been disappointed with anything they’ve put out, and this only cements that. Witty, imaginative, and interesting to all audiences (I’ve had enthusiastic conversations about this film with 10 year olds and 50 years olds alike), The Lego Movie is the most heartfelt and hilarious ninety minute commercial you will ever witness.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

As a fan of Wes Anderson, I am very quick to see anything he puts out, and am seldom disappointed. And with The Grand Budapest Hotel, he managed to push his quirky envelope to the absolute limit. I’m 100% here for it. It’s as fun to watch as I’m sure it was to be a part of, with splendid performances all around. The man can really do no wrong. I saw a tumblr post once that said something along the lines of, “Wes Anderson is like Quentin Tarantino’s weird quirky brother who listens to vinyl and complains about Quentin stealing his library card.”

I’m not really sure what that has to do with my review of this movie, but I find it really fitting.

Point is, it’s refreshing these days to go into a movie and actually have fun. Maybe that doesn’t mean a lot coming from me since I am a cinema cynic, devoid of any part of me that is able to relax and not take movies 100% seriously, but I had a great time while watching Grand Budapest. It’s not my favorite Wes movie (Rushmore is unbeatable), but it’s one of the best.

Jodorowsky’s Dune

I once watched a Alejandro Jodorowsky film with my sister entitled The Holy Mountain.

To this day, I still don’t know what I watched–only that it was the pinnacle of the absurd, really really colorful, and, despite making two hours feel like five, bizarrely compelling.

Jodorowsky is somewhat of a living legend for his ability to encapsulate the odd in a combination of John Waters and Salvador Dali, and one time, he tried to make a film adaption of the Frank Herbert novel Dune–which ended up later infamously falling into the hands of David Lynch.

But Jodorowsky’s vision of Dune was so unruly, so fascinating, and such a beautiful disaster, that Frank Pavich decided making a documentary about how the production fell to pieces was a good idea.

Spoiler alert: it really, really was. Easily my favorite documentary of the year, and an honest to god shame it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.

Birdman

THIS SHIT WAS DOPE. PLEASE WATCH IT. IT IS SO ASTRONOMICALLY INVENTIVE AND PROGRESSIVE. And meta. If you didn’t know, I really like meta things. This film laughs in the audience’s face and it is amazing, the script is such a wonderful echo of reality both in the movie and outside. There aren’t enough words to describe my love for this wonderful movie. Easily my favorite film of the year.

Gone Girl

Another perfect storm of a film that somehow perfectly juggles feminism and sociopathy in a way that is offensive to no one. The titular character of Amy Dunne is a fascinating examination of a femme fatal, and the overarching themes of the effects of long term relationships is both soul-crushing and oddly liberating. Only David Fincher could take something that could be a TV movie on Lifetime and elevate it to this level of artistry and success, combined with one killer performance from a dark horse, Rosamund Pike. Also the soundtrack is elemental; please keep working forever, Trent Reznor. Definitely read my friend Kelly’s deconstruction of Amy Dunne.

Interstellar

There’s one thing to be said for Christopher Nolan, and that is the man knows how to create a theater experience. I have never walked into a Nolan movie, sat down, and not at least had a good time watching it. The unfortunate thing is that some of the time, I walk out of the Nolan movie, and that’s when it gets disappointing for me. Case and point: Interstellar. A beautifully shot film that pays homage after homage to my favorite filmmaker (Stanley Kubrick and his magnum opus 2001: A Space Odyssey), with production design like no other, unfortunately falls short on the writing end of the spectrum.

I mean, come on, Nolan. “Love Conquers All?”

My friend coined this film really well as, “The Best Episode of Doctor Who Ever.” Which is fine, I mean, Doctor Who is a good time. This movie was a good time. Not perfect, certainly no Inception and certainly no Dark Knight, but a good time. I do tip my hat to Nolan, though, for constantly coming up with (mostly) new sci-fi ideas while somehow managing to still be accessible to general audiences and film snobs alike, which is maybe the most difficult thing to pull off, ever.

The Book of Life

Can Maria become the new Elsa because my quality of life would improve tenfold. Please, parents, show your child this film, because it is splendid. No more words.

The Book of Life > The last ten years of Disney films.

Inherent Vice

With Paul Thomas Anderson being one of the top competitors for my #1 spot as “Favorite Living Director,” it goes without saying that I was excited for Inherent Vice. After the majesty that was The Master, I was also excited to see PTA working with Joaquin Phoenix again, and that, combined with my favorite trailer last year, just all stewed into my pot of hype deliciously.

And then I was disappointed.

Before anyone (Ott) says anything, no, it’s not because “Thomas Pynchon novels don’t make sense!!” or “I couldn’t follow it!!”. It was because it was maybe the least dynamic PTA film to date, with just a series of scenes of Joaquin Phoenix walking somewhere, saying some stuff, and then leaving. Examine any other PTA movie and that is not what you will see. Thomas Pynchon is a very ambiguous and complex writer–so maybe some ambiguous and complex scene structures might be nice. That being said, the film still looked beautiful, so Paul is still one of my favorite technical directors.

Nightcrawler

Great story, GREAT characters–I can honestly see Lou Bloom and Amy Dunne getting together. However, when I saw Nightcrawler my initial vibe was that they were going for a Drive type feel–it wasn’t nearly stylistic enough. However, the film still managed to keep me invested and interested all the way through, and the way the main character was written was so devious, sharp, and just plain interesting that I couldn’t get enough. Jake Gyllenhaal in my head has always been kind of underrated in Hollywood–he gives great performance after great performance and never gets much recognition for it. I’d give him an Oscar nomination for this over most of Leo DiCaprio’s nominations, just sayin’.

Boyhood

THE GREATEST FILM OF ALL TIME. THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN EVER TO CINEMA–NAY, TO AMERICA. LIFE CHANGING. HAS CANCER CURING EFFECTS. DID YOU KNOW IT TOOK TWELVE YEARS TO MAKE IT?! TWELVE WHOLE YEARS. THEY DEDICATED THEIR ENTIRE LIVES, WITHOUT ANYONE EVER ASKING THEM TO. TWELVE YEARS!

Are the thought police gone? Okay, real review time.

I realize I’m in the dissenting opinion here, but I really, really didn’t like Boyhood. Before you get antsy, I will say that it is an amazing feat what they accomplished. I mean, filming something over 12 years… watching the actors grow before your eyes… that’s likeunheard of

Okay, okay. All snark aside. It was well shot, pretty, and Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette gave really solid performances. Unfortunately with a film titled “Boyhood,” the main focus is on… the boy. He is boring and I don’t care about anything in his life. All of the philosophical elements of this film have already been explored in previous Linklater productions–his Before trilogy is easily his best work, and it is painfully obvious that the writing process for Boyhood just blatantly borrowed ideas from those films.

Furthermore, Boyhood does the cheapest thing in the universe, which is uses nostalgia to make people feel things & think the film is Amazing. If this movie had not been shot over twelve years, if you took out all of the prolonged shots of things that will make me nostalgic (a Gameboy SP, for example), but you still used the exact same script, it would be an incredibly mediocre film.

When the only thing that elevates your movie to the next level is a gimmick, you’re not an Innovative Filmmaker. Linklater is just a patient one. Which is fine, but it’s so unnecessary to trademark him as a true progressive, when this script and characters are anything but. Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) is a progressive, and even though his film also has somewhat of a gimmicky quality to it, the script and the characters at least give the movie another layer completely. Boyhood completely lacks that.

Into The Woods

With the least accessible second act in musical theater history, I was really interested to see how the film production of Into The Woods was going to go. And, surprisingly enough, it went really, really well. It was imaginative, the production design was fantastic, the sound mixing was beautiful, and it was cast perfectly. It was also way more interesting and dynamic to watch than, say, Les Miserables, but maybe I’m just biased because I love the hell out of Stephen Sondheim.

I also found it beautifully ironic that Disney produced this film, considering the musical is literally making fun of all of their exploits. The live-action remake of Cinderella was one of the previews before I saw Into the Woods, which made me chuckle quite a lot.

Big Hero 6

SPEAKING OF Disney movies, the winter season’s vehicle! With Marvel and Disney now being fully synergized, it was only a matter of time before an animated superhero film. And thus, Big Hero 6 was born, and this time, it not only integrated every single Disney trope in the book, but every single Marvel trope in the book as well! Isn’t life fun? Aren’t cliches still enjoyable after the 700th time? Ah, yes.

I feel like Disney is just run by a robot now. I get no sense of individual artistry in any of their films; no voice other than the big, corporate, “I want all your money, sheeple” voice. The other two animated films I reviewed are so stylish and perceptible to the individuals who made them. There really isn’t any of that going on at Disney anymore. The AI just makes movies that everyone on earth will see and think is nice. I guess their AI works, because Big Hero 6 was a nice movie. I laughed, I cried, I got excited, I felt for all the characters.

“So what’s wrong with that, Maddison?”

A ROBOT MADE ME FEEL THIS WAY. THEY ARE TAKING OVER. SLOWLY BUT SURELY. SKYNET IS SOME REAL SHIT.

Selma

This movie was everything Spielberg’s Lincoln should’ve been: pointed in on one specific period in a famous person’s history, without cheaply foreshadowing to future events nor rehashing things that already occurred in the film’s canon. With sharp performances all around, this is easily the best biopic of the year, as well as the least Oscar Baity, which gives it a standing ovation in my personal opinion. The direction in this movie is sharp, the writing is as excellent as the performances… it’s a well crafted biographical movie that still somehow manages to be progressive in the art of filmmaking, unlike…

The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything

…which are, by definition, “well crafted movies.” And yet I was bored by them, not because the characters were underdeveloped or because the direction was flat, which they weren’t. They were Good Movies, as there always are in every Oscar season. These stories might be important to be told; the main focus of both films are absolutely men to be honored. But in 5 years, I don’t see these in any “BEST FILMS OF THE DECADE” lists. I do, however, see them in high school history classes.

Benedict Cumberbatch was good. Eddie Redmayne was good too. They were good movies. But I don’t really care about them all that much. Neither of these films are The Social Network or A Beautiful Mind. That’s all there is to be said.

American Sniper

Remember when Clint Eastwood talked to a chair on national television, pretending it was Obama? Yeah, that crazy ol’ bastard still makes movies. Here’s one of ‘em. Think… “Birth of a Nation,” but instead of demonizing black people, we’ll demonize Middle Easterners! Let’s make a movie that will only intensify White Fear! I think that will be really good for society, because there aren’t enough hate crimes against Muslim folks in America already!

If you’ve seen Inglorious Basterds, take this moment to remember that one Nazi that Daniel Brühl plays. The sniper who killed a bunch of people in that watchtower. Remember how the Reich Minister of Nazi Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, makes a biopic about him and all the Nazis celebrate him and his accomplishments, despite the fact that he’s actually a horrible, egotistical womanizer, and a damn NAZI?

That’s actually 100% what American Sniper is. Chris Kyle was not a nice dude. Please stop celebrating him. And please stop saying that he “protected our freedoms” because straight up, killing people in a country that is 1/22 the size of ours and is half a globe away does not do shit to “protect our freedom.” Thanks.

Also, this movie was really really poorly directed. It looked like a Call of Duty sniper montage on YouTube. Except it was less fun to watch, because Chris Kyle hardscoped the whole time and didn’t even do one 360. Bradley Cooper was good, only because he’s a good actor, not because this role was written well. The nobody who played his wife was a bore. And then Jonathan Groff showed up for 2 minutes just to confuse me with his role choices, or maybe just to prove that Clint Eastwood is at least cool with gay dudes? I don’t know. It was a lame movie, is the point I’m trying to make.

Clint Eastwood, you were really really amazing. Once upon a time. That time is over. Please stop making films now, because your filmmaking ability has already peaked and it’s all downhill from here. I’d like to remember you with some fondness but you’re making it hard.

Whiplash

What a film. Wow, just thinking about this movie gets the bad taste of writing about American Sniper out of my mouth. What. A. Film. This is the kind of movie you go in to watch and you can just feel the energy and drive that went into making it. It’s love that is palpable; hell, you could stir it with a spoon. The direction is so aggressive, much like the script and the characters and the performances, and all of it  blends to make a film that just goes BAM! CRASH! POW!

Pun intended, because Whiplash is about a drummer, hohoho. And actually a really nice way to close out the cinematic year of 2k14, which was underwhelming in some parts, and overwhelming in others. In a film society that is plagued by remake after remake, sequel after sequel, it’s invigorating, inspiring, and liberating to know that there are still truly original passion projects being pursued.

Maddison’s Oscar Breakdown

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Well, it’s that time of year again. The time where, as Jimmy Fallon states, celebrities get all dressed up to get judged by people at home in their sweatpants. And how, Jimmy Fallon. It’s a wonder I’m even leaving my room tonight, but my friend Anne promised to make me Mac and Cheese if I watched the Oscars with her. Yes, the glory of the Academy Awards is finally upon us, and by glory, I mean the insatiable, bitterly-burning disappointment that always precedes and proceeds the handing out of completely meaningless statues. Remember a couple years ago when David Fincher lost his well-deserved Best Director to Tom Hooper, whose groundbreaking use of funny wallpapers and the rule of thirds championed him to victory? Remember just last year when Paul Thomas Anderson’s electrically disturbing masterpiece The Master was not only snubbed in the Best Picture territory, but Best Cinematography, Best Score, and both actor categories for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix? Yes, what lovely times these all were, and the fact that I’m very passive aggressively writing about them now shows a lot about me. So I promised myself, this year, this year, even if Inside Llewyn Davis, Mud, and A Place Beyond the Pines were all unjustly snubbed, that I’m not going to get upset. Even if the media princess Jennifer Lawrence (who I do adore, but again, bitterness at the Academy) is given another Oscar over the incendiary Lupita Nyong’o, even if Gravity wins every single technical award, I’m not going to get upset.

That being said, I’m still going to write a very strongly-worded post about the Oscars, and break down my personal opinions for each category (except for the short films because I don’t care). But I’m not gonna get mad. Nope.

Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street

My Pick: 12 Years A Slave

What I’d Like To Win: The Wolf of Wall Street, or a write-in win for Inside Llewyn Davis

So there’s been a lot of discussion this year for what’s going to take Best Picture, and a lot of people have been saying American Hustle. Now, and I’m being mild when I say this, if American Hustle does indeed win, I will probably flip a desk. In my personal opinion, American Hustle was the Lincoln of this year. You get a director with a lot of buzz, an incredible production design (i.e. lots of money), a cast on top of their game, and you’re going to get a Good Movie, but in such a by-the-book way that I find it almost offensive the people would think it would win. Gravity also has a lot of talk, and I wouldn’t be so mad if Gravity won, because it’s not nominated for best screenplay, which is good because the dialogue in that movie was pretty much trash. It would be sort of odd if Gravity won because I don’t think it was half as well rounded as some of the others nominated. My pick to win is 12 Years A Slave, which is actually a movie I really loved and enjoyed and would be happy to see win. Again, it’s more well rounded, and for some reason, seems a lot less bait-y than American Hustle. However, seeing as The Wolf of Wall Street is in the running for my favorite film of last year for a number of reasons, I would love to see Marty get one here.

And of course, if a write-in win for Inside Llewyn Davis occurred, I would be pretty stoked. I’m not going to launch into my confused rant about why it wasn’t nominated (there are only nine nominees in this category, when there are usually ten…. leaving one blank spot… where they just decided not to nominate it? I guess?), but the fact that it wasn’t is genuinely offensive to me. The Academy has an opportunity to rectify that–though obviously I doubt it’s actually going to happen.

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Nominees: American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

My Pick: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: Alfonso, or maybe a write-in for Spike Jonze? No?

One thing that is absolutely inarguable about this year as far as I’m concerned, is that Gravity absolutely killed it as far as technicalities go. The opening shot of that film was one of the most glorious one-takes I’ve ever seen. It was impeccable. Writing and other shenanigans aside, it was beautifully crafted and deserves most of the awards it gets this year. Even though it’s sort of unfair to the other great directors who did impeccable work (Marty kills it every time, 12YAS is probably Steve McQueen’s masterpiece), Alfonso blew it out of the water. There’s really not much more to be said. I’m putting in a little nod to Spike Jonze here though, because Her was probably also one of his most beautifully shot films so I would’ve liked for him to at least have been nominated (Take out David O. Russell for American Hustle? Yes? No?) but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for him this year.

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Nominees: Christian Bale, Bruce Dern, Leonardo Dicaprio, Echiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew McConaughey

My Pick: McConaughey

Who I’d Like To Win: Literally anyone but Christian Bale

This category is a little tough for me and if you’d asked me before the SAG’s and the Globes who was going to win, I would have easily picked Chiwetel. However, after McConaughey got both the awards I mentioned and I actually went to go see Dallas Buyers Club for myself, I was convinced that McConaughey was gonna take it. Can we just talk about for one second how awesome McConaughey became this past year? Seriously–when did he start being an actor who actually did actor-y stuff? Mud, Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and recently True Detective… the guy’s on fire. I’d like to see him get the Oscar. If his acceptance speech isn’t the chest pumping thing form Wolf of Wall Street though, they should probably take the award away from him.

There were a lot of really excellent performances this  year. Bruce Dern in Nebraska was fantastic. Leonardo, again, kills it–and I am sorry that he’s not going to get it. I’d be extremely happy if he did, but I just don’t see it. Honestly, I’d be happy if anyone won, just not Christian Bale. Because while I really like Christian Bale, when the most you did for a role was get fat… sorry, but no.

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Nominees:  Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep

My Pick: Cate Blanchett

Who I’d Like To Win: Cate Blanchett

This category isn’t even a competition. Sorry everyone else. Sorry folks boycotting Woody Allen now. Cate’s got this in the bag. No arguments.

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Nominees: Barkhad Abdi, Bradley Cooper, Michael Fassbender, Jonah Hill, Jared Leto

My Pick: Jared Leto

What I’d Like To Win: Jonah Hill

Okay, okay, okay–I know Jonah’s not going to win, all right? But can you imagine how excellent it would be if Jonah Hill won an Oscar for The Wolf of Wall Street? That would be so, so, so, awesome. I might even like the Oscars again if that happened. I might even forgive them for snubbing Raging Bull back in 1980. Anyway, yeah, Jared Leto was amazing in Dallas Buyer’s Club. I know a lot of people are giving him smack because acting faintly LGBTQ on film shouldn’t be Oscar Worthy, but I urge those people to actually go see the movie because they clearly didn’t. Fassbender would also be an excellent winner though, his performance in 12YAS was the most frighteningly beautiful visage of cognitive dissonance on film this year.

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Nominees: Sally Hawkins, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o, Julia Roberts, June Squibb

My Pick: Lupita Nyong’o

Who I’d Like To Win: Lupita Nyong’o

I swear to god. If the Academy gives Jennifer Lawrence the Oscar over Lupita Nyong’o….

Wait, no. I said I’m not going to get upset.

Okay.

Okay. Not upset.

It’s gonna be fine. They’re gonna give it to Lupita. Right?

…Right?

RIGHT?!

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Nominees: The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square, 20 Feet From Stardom

My Pick: The Act of Killing

What I’d Like To Win: The Act of Killing

Okay so I might not be the scholar on documentaries this year since I only saw The Act of Killing and Dirty Wars, but honestly, after reading up on the other nominees, I’m pretty convinced that The Act of Killing is going to take it. It was honestly one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. And I sat through Cannibal Holocaust. It shook me to my absolute core and absolutely deserves recognition for that. It’s not for the faint of heart.

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Nominees: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

My Pick: Frozen

What I’d Like To Win: Is it too early for The Lego Movie? #LegoMovie2015

Maybe I should care more about the Best Animated Picture category. But I don’t that much. I saw Frozen and watched The Croods while I was babysitting. I’m sure The Wind Rises is beautiful because Hayao always makes beautiful things, but let’s be real. It’s not going to win over the Disney/Pixar darling of the year.

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Nominees: The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Great Beauty, The Hunt, The Missing Picture, Omar

My Pick: What do you mean Blue is the Warmest Color wasn’t nominated?

What I’d Like To Win: What?

But it won the Palme D’or? I’m so confused? I don’t know. Roeper says The Great Beauty is going to win so I guess I’ll go with him on this one?

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Nominees:  American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: I don’t care, Gravity I guess.

The editing in The Wolf of Wall Street was weirdly off par for a Martin Scorsese movie. That’s the only thing that blew my mind when it comes to editing this year. Anyway, yeah, Gravity. Whatever.

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Nominees: American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby (why?), Her, 12 Years A Slave

My Pick: American Hustle.

What I’d Like To Win: Please god, anything but The Great Gatsby. Her, if the gods are good.

This is the only award I’d be okay with American Hustle winning, only because it means it would beat out The Great Gatsby, which is a film that made me so mad on so many different levels. Go David O! You got this! Screw Baz Luhrmann! Woo!

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Nominees: The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Prisoners

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS OH MY GOD

Because this is one of the few categories Inside Llewyn Davis is actually nominated for, I would love for it to win. It deserves everything this year. It was so perfect. I don’t know why it got snubbed. Please, someone explain it to me. Somebody, please. PLEASE. IT WAS SO GOOD. IT WAS SO GOOD. 

Along a similar vein, if the Cinematography category is apparently the “here let’s throw the snubbed best picture guy sin here” category this year, then why wasn’t Cianfrance nominated for The Place Beyond The Pines? And even though the movie itself was sort of terrible, Refn’s Only God Forgives was pretty beautiful. And Jeff Nichols’ Mud was gorgeous too.

Also, the cinematography in 12 Years a Slave was absolutely impeccable. Did the Academy just… forget? Or something?

Whatever. Who knows.

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Nominees: Gravity, The Hobbit, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Star Trek: Into Darkness

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: Gravity

I liked how this category just sort of forgot that Pacific Rim existed this summer as well.

The Lone Ranger now gets to put “Oscar Nominee” on the dvd box. Let that sink in.

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Nominees: Dallas Buyers Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Lone Ranger

My Pick: Wha… Dallas Buyers Club, obviously.

What I’d Like To Win: I mean… obviously.

I am so confused.

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Nominees: American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, 12 Years A Slave

My Pick: The Great Gatsby

What I’d Like To Win: Literally anything but The Great Gatsby

I don’t care if the costumes were pretty, I hated that stupid movie.

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Nominees: The Book Thief, Gravity, Her, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

My Pick: Stephen Brice, Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: HER PLEASE PLEASE

My favorite thing about the Best Original Score category is that no matter what movie he’s scoring, John Williams will, without fail, be nominated. He could score the next Transformers film and they’d put him in here. He won’t always win, but he’ll always be nominated. Anyway, Gravity is going to take it, but I would cry out of joy if Owen Pallett & William Butler got their recognition for their Her score because it was absolutely gorgeous. Not just because I’m a crazy Arcade Fire fan and not only because I fangirl over Owen Pallett’s other work, but because it actually is genuinely one of the prettiest scores I’ve heard in a long time. But oh well.

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Nominees: Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Her, Mandela

My Pick: Let It Go, Frozen

What I’d Like To Win: Anybody but U2

I am championing for Pharrell to get a start on his EGOT this year. The Moon Song from Her is beautiful as well. Frozen is going to win, because duh, but it’s all all right, because as long as I don’t have to look at Bono’s dumb sunglasses as he gets an Oscar, I’ll be contented.

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Nominees: All Is Lost, Captain Phillips, Grabity, The Hobbit, Lone Survivor

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: Gravity

Let’s not pretend any of the films mentioned this year are better than Gravity in terms of sound, when the sound editing in Gravity was pretty much what made the movie. 

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Nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor

My Pick:  Sigh. Gravity.

What I’d Like To Win: ………Inside Llewyn Davis….?

There’s a joke to be made about gravity belts here. Like, one more win for Gravity to put under it’s Belt?

Haha?

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Nominees: Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf of Wall Steet

My Pick: 12 Years a Slave

What I’d Like To Win:  The Wolf of Wall Street

Finally, a category that actually has some competition. So I’m pretty sure that 12 Years is going to get it because it was an impeccable script. It was written really theatrically and I loved it for that, the language was just as beautiful as the performances and the cinematography. It was amazing.

That being said, if the Wolf of Wall Street’s record-breaking curse parade of a script won a bloody Oscar for best screenplay… well that would just be great, wouldn’t it?

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Nominees: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska

My Pick: Her

What I’d Like To Win: Please, please, please, please Her. Just, not American Hustle. Not for best original screenplay. This is my category. David, you can have the rest of the Oscars. You can have best picture if you want, I don’t care. Just please, don’t take this away from me. It’s all I have.

I believe in you, Spike. I believe in you. 

Well that was fun. I don’t know why I’m putting in this last little bit to talk about snubbed films since I pretty much covered it in the breakdown, but whatever. Doin’ it anyway.

So, yeah, Mud was an amazing movie that came out this year. And it came out the same day as The Great Gatsby so I don’t know why Gatsby is getting some nods while Mud is getting left behind. I think that was McConaughey’s performance of the year–real talk–better than Dallas Buyers Club, even. And the cinematography was absolutely beautiful.

A Place Beyond The Pines is sort of a polarizing film, but I think Bradley Cooper’s performance in that far surpassed his in American Hustle. The screenplay was also fantastic, and yet, nothing.

Pacific Rim, I know, is not exactly what comes to mind when you think of an Oscar Worthy Film, but heck. Not even for Visual Effects? The Oscars threw a nod at Michael Bay for visual effects, and they can’t give one to Guillermo? Come on.

There was a lot of controversy in regards to the french film Blue Is The Warmest Color. I think it was something having to do with the timing of it’s release that didn’t allow it to get thrown into the Oscar pool which is why it wasn’t nominated for the respective categories it should’ve been (Best lead/supporting actress, best foreign film, probably best picture even) but I’m going to mention it here anyway just because I can.

I really don’t think I need to mention Inside Llewyn Davis again. What was the Academy thinking. What were they thinking?! Not even just for Best Picture, but Oscar Isaac’s performance was so out of this world I can’t believe he wasn’t recognized for it. I guess he has to change his name to Golden Globe Isaac now.

Have a great Oscar Sunday, everyone.