House of Cards is back! Some things happen. Some things don’t happen. These are the questions you’ll inevitably ask while watching season 3…well, at least, these are the questions I inevitably asked while watching season 3.
The months of January, February and March are tough for me. And it’s not because I have the specter of unfulfilled New Years resolutions of the past haunting me, or another Valentine’s Day to remind me it’s the worst holiday that we as a society give credence to, or another Saint Patrick’s to shine light on the fact that I’m of Irish decent and don’t drink. While all of these prove that the struggle truly is real, nothing proves to be more depressing to me than the winter move slump.
You see, what we have here is a case of confusing cause and effect. Less people go to the movie theaters during these months, which means studios typically release the films they don’t expect to do well in this time period and save their big budget or quality films (or bruisers as I like to call them) for the summer. But on the flip side, one could just as easily say the reason less people see movies during these months is because studios don’t release anything worth watching.
Now I realize this analysis is a generalization (albeit not far off from the truth) and some good movies do get released during these months with “Silence of the Lambs” being the most notable exception. So I cross my fingers every year that studios will get us out of this slump and give us some quality films to look forward too. So without further ado, here are the films that I think could be gems in an otherwise desolate time for movies.
Blackhat (January 16)
I’ll be honest and say on the surface this movie doesn’t really grab my attention. I mean, I like Chris Hemsworth and all, but if you’re going to release a globetrotting, cyber warfare action movie these days it had better stand out, and the trailer just isn’t that good. But Michael Mann is the director and that does change my perspective a bit. Mann directed such hits as “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Heat,” “Ali,” and, a personal favorite of mine, “Collateral.” This doesn’t guarantee a quality film, but it does earn the benefit of the doubt and possibly my money.
Jupiter Ascending (February 6)
The newest film from the Wachowskis, “Jupiter Ascending” was originally planned for release back in summer 2014 but got moved back to February due to reshoots and extra work on the special effects (which from the looks of it could put the “Star Wars” prequels to shame in terms of how much CGI it looks to incorporate). While the heavy reliance on effects might deter some, I for one am excited to see a new film that’s not a sequel, reboot or based on a YA novel that gets a large budget. Now let’s just hope it’s good.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (February 13)
Easily my most anticipated film during the winter slump is “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” A bit of a mouth full as far as titles goes, but it is directed by Matthew Vaughn who directed such gems as “Kick-Ass” and “X-Men: First Class.” Plus, just watch the trailer, because it looks like a fun time – like James Bond before his movies became super serious.
“’71” (February 27)
Here’s a film that I had never heard about until I read an early review for it a couple months back. It’s an action/thriller that tells the story of a British soldier who gets separated from his unit during the Belfast riots of 1971, and it’s supposed to be great. Supposed to, anyway. My fear is that although we might get a quality movie here, it’s coming from out of nowhere. You probably hadn’t even heard of it until I listed it, which means less people will likely see it upon release. But here’s hoping.
Chappie (March 6)
Director Neill Blomkamp has had one really big hit with “District 9” and one hit and miss with “Elysium.” I’m hopeful that his newest film, which was originally announced as a sci-fi comedy but slowly morphed into more of a drama about a robot who is given artificial intelligence, will lean more toward “District 9” quality. Visually the cinematography looks to please, so here’s hoping the story, acting and script all stand on their own adorable robotic legs as well.
It has taken me three movie experiences over roughly 474 minutes to understand what a great, disappointing waste of time The Hobbit trilogy really is. This realization didn’t occur after falling asleep both times I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It wasn’t when I laughed heartily during the extended barrel-riding sequence from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. The long-delayed epiphany dawned on me early into The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies when Smaug the Magnificent decimates the wooden village of Lake Town and yet the focus shifts to selfish sneak Alfrid comically pushing villagers out of the way of the Master’s escape. This isn’t the last we see of Alfrid. Oh no, he continues throughout the film, his screen time rivaling that of Bard the Bowman as one of the most prominent human characters. Why? Why?! WHY?!
Many elements of The Hobbit trilogy don’t make much sense from the prominence of new character Alfrid to the basic structural issue of three 2+ hour long movies for one dense-but-not-THAT-dense little novel. And by sense, I mean story sense, narrative clarity, making-sure-people-enjoy-the-movie sense.
One of the few redeeming qualities that make The Hobbit trilogy worth watching is the ever-present, hardly toned down angst and sexual tension of Thilbo Bagginshield.
Thilbo Bagginshield, the portmanteau of Thorin Oakenshield and Bilbo Baggins, revolves around the emotional, almost explicitly romantic arc of Bilbo and Thorin’s relationship throughout the three films. From the earnest hug capping off An Unexpected Journey to Bilbo’s choked up recollections of Thorin at the end of Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit trilogy chronicles the dramatic arc of Bilbo and Thorin’s relationship. Like most of the best love stories, Thilbo Bagginshield ends tragically with an end slightly changed from the book.
Poor Martin Freeman just can’t get away from the creative shippers who pair his characters with dark-haired, brooding men. (Disclosure: I’m a Cumberbitch AND a casual Johnlock shipper.) Still, it’s virtually impossible for Richard Armitage not to have chemistry with his costar. (See: BBC’s Robin Hood.) Every time Thorin looks at Bilbo, I can’t tell if he’s about to engage in conversation with his platonic friend or jump his bones.
And I’m not the only one who’s noticed.
Back in 2012, I had the opportunity to see An Unexpected Journey before its premiere date, thanks to a diligent friend who actually read school emails. As soon as I came back to my dorm, I headed straight for Tumblr searching for Thorin/Bilbo shipping materials: fan art, fan fiction, anything I could get my virtual hands on. Nary a GIFset could be found. Tolkein wrote The Hobbit back in 1937, and the Internet was still devoid of Thorin/Bilbo? Preposterous!
What a difference a few days make. By the time the film officially debuted, as soon as I came home from the midnight release (I already bought my ticket months in advance!), I noticed Tumblr’s collection of Thorin/Bilbo slash fanworks started to grow.
On December 14, An Unexpected Journey’s Friday U.S. release date, the coupling had a name: Thilbo Bagginshield. By Monday, December 18, a full-fledged ship was officially active. Now, Tumblr, AO3, and other fandom-friendly sites are full of Thilbo Bagginshield related works—from unassuming angsty playlists to in-depth novel-length fan fiction involving MPreg, yaoi, and who knows what else.
While The Hobbit trilogy films are plagued with problems, they still hold glimmers of the LOTR films we loved of yesteryear, er, 14 years ago. One of the trilogy’s biggest flaws is that it tries too hard to match the mood of The Lord of the Rings instead of embracing what makes The Hobbit so enjoyable and lasting. And yet, even from this complex web of audience expectations and filmmaker fatigue, comes a new and unexpected gift for viewers to enjoy: Thilbo Bagginshield.
Don’t we deserve more than coded suggestions of a same sex interspecies romance from an bloated adaptation of a fantasy classic? Of course we do! But when all you have are a handful of interesting sequences and glimpses of characterization in a series mired in bland, carbon copy attempts of capturing the same majesty as The Lord of the Rings film, we’ll take what you we can get.
It’s no secret that I am the #1 Christmas fan. (Well, #2, right behind Kris Kringle.) I go all in on the holly and jolly every year, listening to Christmas music on Nov. 1, overdecorating both my apartment and office space, and of course consuming all Christmas-related pop culture I can get my hands on. But for some reason, I never got around to seeing many people’s all-time favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually, until a year ago. I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long, especially since it has so many people I like in it. All I know is that last Christmas season, I saw it in my Netflix queue, and decided to finally see what all the fuss was about.
And I hated it.
Seriously, this is the movie so many people have been raving about for years? This?? Now, maybe my expectations had been raised too much having not seen it for all this time, or maybe I was already jaded from seeing similar yet horrible films Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. (Remember those?) But I could not stand this movie at all. Let’s get into some reasons why.
First off, we have to recognize that this is somehow a world where Hugh Grant is Prime Minister of England. I’m all for watching Hugh Grant at his Hugh Grant-iest (I’m an unashamed lover of Music and Lyrics), but this seemed a step too far. His performance wasn’t actually all that bad, but his storyline was atrocious. He falls for one of his assistants, who, people like to state whenever they can, is a big fat cow. Just so obese. Nevermind that she’s like a size 8 at most, she is just the fattiest of the fat and nobody can understand why Prime Minister Hugh Grant likes her so much. At least PM Hugh Grant thinks this is absurd (as does President Billy Bob Thornton, who would also like some of that chunky thigh), and they make out behind a children’s play at the end. So romantic.
Then we have Keira Knightley, who gets married to Chiwetel Ejiofor. (This movie must be some sort of hazing ritual before you can get an Oscar.) Chiwetel’s schlubby best friend is also in love with Keira, because duh, who isn’t. The best friend is in charge of videotaping the wedding, but really just makes it a series of close-up shots of Keira. Instead of getting pissed and finding this creepy like any normal person, Keira is flattered. Then comes that iconic scene where the best friend stands outside Keira’s door and confesses his love through signage. Before I saw this I thought this scene was about single people. Silly me, it’s about potential adultery and stabbing your best friend in the back. So romantic.
Martin Freeman’s whole storyline is that he is a porn star that likes having fake sex with his costar, and they decide they might like to have real sex outside of the studio. So romantic.
Colin Firth goes to France for some reason and falls for his Portuguese maid who can’t speak English. It’s all supposed to be very sexy, but instead comes off a bit creepy to me (like all the men’s actions in this movie). Like, what if she’s actually just complaining about you ordering her about this whole time? Way to misinterpret, dude. Then we have that whole part where he goes to her village to track her down, and the girl’s father actually tries to pay Colin Firth to take the fat sister instead. Like, what? Fat Sister is the only sensible one in this movie though, as she explains to her family, “Father is about to sell Aurelia as a slave to this Englishman.” That’s right, this storyline is about human trafficking. So romantic.
Liam Neeson’s wife has just died (like IRL, and it made me very uncomfortable), and his precocious son, who has deep existential thoughts about love, has fallen for a girl in his class that has the same name as his dead mother. Yeeeep. Liam encourages his son to play the drums for her instead of talking to her, and when that doesn’t totally work Liam then encourages his son to run after her last-minute at the airport like a 1980s movie cliche. SO romantic.
Emma Thompson, who I guess is BFF with Liam Neeson (this is actually never explained), is going through a crisis of her own. Her husband, Alan Rickman, is a cheating monster. I actually didn’t hate this storyline as much. Emma Thompson can do no wrong, and that crying scene did get to me a little. It was the one time during the movie I felt an emotion that wasn’t anger or incredulity. So romantic.
Bill Nighy is also in this movie and sings Christmas songs and drinks. So romantic.
Laura Linney has the hots for one of her coworkers, Karl, but also has a sick brother she has to take care of. This is apparently a HUGE dilemma for her. That’s because Karl is a huge douche who doesn’t have time for chicks with sick brothers. So romantic.
Oh, I almost forgot about the ginger catering dude! I’m so sorry. So yes, this guy, who wears shirts that say “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” is confused why he isn’t getting any in England. He decides to go to America to get some, and finds three willing hotties at the first bar he steps into. So romantic.
Anyway, yeah, the stories all connect in some way, though I’m hard pressed to remember how. Everyone in this movie is a creep, the women say a total of like 200 words the whole film, and it’s slightly racist. I hated it.
I’m sorry if you are a fan of Love Actually. I hope we can still be friends. Hopefully you also like Elf, White Christmas, or A Christmas Story and we can watch those together someday.
“Silent Night,” “Joy To The World” and “O Holy Night” are the most popular Christmas songs, according to TIME. There’s definitely something to be said about traditional music and the oldies but goodies.
But what about all the songs not playing on the radio? This holiday season, let’s think outside the box and add some new tunes to the Christmas playlist. You can start with these suggestions. Some are original songs, both old and new, and some are lesser-known renditions of classics.
“(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home” by KT Tunstall
“30 Days” by Never Shout Never
“Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson
“Just For Now” by Kelly Clarkson
“Sparrow in the Birch” by Crofts Family
“Once In Royal David’s City” by Sufjan Stevens
“The Brightest Star” by Jim Avett
“White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes
“I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” by Blazer Force
“Dear Santa” by Jay Brannan
“Present Face” by Garfunkel & Oates (Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome)
“Elf’s Lament” by Barenaked Ladies feat. Michael Buble
JUST PLAIN SAD
“The Heartache Can Wait” by Brandi Carlile
“Blue Christmas” by Bright Eyes
“I Want To Come Home For Christmas” by Marvin Gaye
“River” by Sarah McLachlan
TRADITIONAL WITH A TWIST
“O Holy Night” by Martina McBride
“I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” by The Civil Wars
“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Jack Johnson
“Silent Night (Lord Of My Life)” by Lady Antebellum
“Love Is Christmas” by Sara Bareilles
“Tiny Tree Christmas” by Guster (this version is by Ryan Miller)
“Snow Globe” by Matt Wertz
“Hang A String Of Lights” by Great Lake Swimmers
“That’s Christmas To Me” by Pentatonix
I am a Cumberbitch.
Not a Cumberbabe, Cumbercookie, nor a cog in the wheel of the Cumbercollective. A good ol’ fashioned O.G. Cumberbitch. That is to say, I’m a longtime, fervent fan of the body of work (and body) of actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Jumping head first into the publicity tour for his latest film The Imitation Game (and a new happy development in his personal life), Cumberbatch has been all over the media with features in Out, Fast Company, and Vulture, not to mention buzz over his final confirmation as Doctor Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (And thereby making SDCC increasingly obsolete? Discuss!)
Being a part of the Cumberbitches United Front means being known as an authority on all things related to Cumberbatch, acting as the Keeper of the Cumberkeys, if you will. Such a position grows more unnecessary the more popular and mainstream he becomes. Not only does his latest media frenzy focus more general attention on Cumberbatch and his work, but it also focuses more attention on his built-in “rabid” fan base.
Vulture‘s interview/profile on Cumberbatch, his fans, and the memes they create touches on this subject from an outside perspective. Like many reports on subcultures, not everything about the reported community is covered nor are the nuances of the community understood. I can’t speak for every Cumberfan: this reflects my Cumberbatch fandom experience.
Bein’ a Basic Cumberbitch
Somewhere in the winter break of late 2010/early 2011, I watched the first series of BBC’s Sherlock. A quick binge-watch and prolonged Tumblr perusal later, I became a burgeoning Cumberbitch. From then on, the Sherlock fandom and Cumberbitches United Front took up most of my Internet time as I anticipated the future Sherlock series and went through the talented super British actor’s back catalog. Pro-tip: watch Starter for 10 and Third Star; skip Fortysomething.
Memes, inside jokes, and puns (so many puns) developed as Cumberbitches fed on another’s enthusiasm. Anything involving otters, Gingerbatch, and the unaired Sherlock pilot still brings me pure, unadulterated joy. Vulture mentions #cumberwatch, and I’d like to think I helped popularize the term. Never forget Cumberwatch 2012 a.k.a. the 2012 Oscars coverage that refused to show Cumberbatch on screen save for three seconds during War Horse‘s presentation. Not to mention the Cumberwatch when he confirmed attendance at The Avengers premiere AND NEVER SHOWED UP AT THE RED CARPET. Oh no, I’m not still bitter for wasting 2 hours on multiple shaky cam live feeds. Not at all.
Memes and adulation aren’t the only aspect of the Cumberbitch fandom. Genuine, valid criticism from the fanbase is an oft-unreported part of the fandom experience.
Because we humans are complicated creatures, sometimes one aspect of our identity runs into conflict with another. As much as I identify as a Cumberbitch, I’m first a stalwart supporter of the proliferation of people of color and women’s representation in society and culture.
That’s why I refuse to identify as a Cumberbabe or another moniker that Cumberbatch has suggested as alternatives to the fan-derived Cumberbitches. He has stated on numerous occasions that Cumberbitch seems misogynistic. What is misogynistic is a man telling a woman what to call herself and explain to her what constitutes as misogyny. So, no thanks, I’ll call myself whatever I want to, thank you very much.
The Khan Conundrum also caused me to reflect on fandom identity in relation to my social politics. For those out of the whitewashing pop culture dialogue (fix that), the Khan Conundrum refers Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting as Star Trek Into Darkness villain Khan Noonien Singh, a character known in Star Trek canon to be of North Asian, most likely Indian, descent. Ecstatic enthusiasm for the opportunity to watch Cumberbatch in a significant, slick role in a sci-fi cultural juggernaut was immediately tempered by the disconcerting disappointment in witnessing another role seemingly perfectly crafted for an actor of color go to a white actor.
Blame for the Khan Conundrum falls most directly on JJ Abrams, the executive producers, and writers of the film. And yet, whether conscious of the decision or not, Cumberbatch chose a lucrative, high-profile career move over rejecting the pervasive cultural norm of whitewashing.
Then there’s the issue of Cumberbatch’s discomfort with his fan base, a feeling experienced by almost all popular celebrities. Fans can “get out of hand,” and yet opinions can vary greatly over what “getting out of hand” actually means. Illegal activities, creepy questions, and creeper live interactions encompass “getting out of hand” to me. Other than that, all is fair game! Individuals express their fandom in a multitude of avenues, so just because I don’t read much Cumberfiction, for example, doesn’t mean others shouldn’t read and write it.
Much to Cumberbatch’s apparent chagrin, there will always be Cumberbitches. The levels to which the Cumberbatch fandom celebrates their community goes way beyond mainstream. In essence, Cumberbitches will continue their vibrant, wondrous lunacy despite his growing acclaim and credibility as a “real” (read: not-just-Internet) celebrity.
The Cumbercampaign Conspiracy
From what I can tell from inside and outside of the fandom, most of the talk regarding his engagement being strictly a career move has been from news and gossip outlets reporting on said engagement as opposed to strictly fandom sources. Sure, do some fans think outlandish things? Yeah! When do human ever not think outlandish things?
Let’s face it: it’s Oscar season and Cumberbatch has his best chance so far in his career to snag an Academy Award. He wants it. Bad. And he isn’t alone: fellow actors Michael Keaton, Keira Knightley, Eddie Redmayne, and Reese Witherspoon are but a few who are also actively campaigning this
election cycle awards season.
Here’s as far as my Cumberbitch Cumbercampaign conspiracy theories go:
- Do you think the timing and manner of his engagement announcement is part of his Oscar campaign? Yes.
- Do you think his engagement and relationship is part of his Oscar campaign? No.
- Do you think he’ll win the Oscar? As of now, no. But give the Harvey Weinstein machine time.
- Do you think he deserves to win an Oscar? Yes! If only for Third Star—his performance in that slayed me. I haven’t seen The Imitation Game yet, so I can’t say.
- Do you think his Doctor Strange casting will help/hurt his Oscar chances? Help, definitely! He’s posturing himself to be a part of the Hollywood machine, and Hollywood looooves Hollywood. Plus, his thespian cred remains in tact as his short residency as Hamlet at the Barbican became a well-publicized point of contention as to why he couldn’t (at first) join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
- Do you think he’ll be a good addition to the MCU? I think so, but frankly, I don’t care. My Tumblr feed will be filled to the brim with MCU canon Hiddlesbatch and that is good enough for me.
There is nothing wrong with being a part of a celebrity fandom. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise—not the general public, not the media, and not even the celebrity herself or himself.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to add this reapersun tote bag to my Christmas list.
It’s almost a week into December. Cue the top lists — Top 10 novels of 2014, 5 worst movies of 2014, Top 15 albums of 2014 and the Top 100 most repetitive and personal questions your extended family will ask you when you’re home for the holidays.
Instead of reading a list of the top songs of 2014, just listen to this lovely mix to hear what 2014’s pop music sounded like and reminisce about the time “Happy” was on every single radio station all the time.
Us the Duo seamlessly covered this year’s hits like Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, Clean Bandit, Pharrell, John Legend, Maroon 5 and more. The husband-and-wife team, Michael and Carissa Alvarado, started covering songs on Vine in #6SecondCovers and are the first Vine artists to sign with a major label.
Any other hits they should have included?
Hey guys, only 24 more hours until we get to judge gorgeous celebrities on their questionable red carpet fashion choices at the 87th Academy Awards! I don’t know about you, but I love the whole Oscars shebang with my whole heart. Yes, it’s political and often predictable and it’s super annoying how white and male the nominees are this year, but it’s also the one time that everyone seems to care about film and pop culture as much as I do. It’s my Super Bowl. I’m also really great at predicting the winners. I don’t want to brag, but the only one I missed in last year’s ballot was Best Documentary Short.
So, to help you out, I’ve taken the liberty of listing out my predictions of who’s coming away with the gold tomorrow, and I’ve enlisted a few fellow Wannabes to give their opinions as well. Only trust them if they agree with me. You’re welcome. – Chelsey
Maricela: Blargh. I have no idea. I’m so done with the world if it’s American Sniper because it was good but it was no J. Edgar. (J. EDGAR WAS REALLY GOOD, GUYS!) I’m gonna just put it out there into the universe and say Selma because yeah, it really is that good. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Boyhood because “film history” and what not.
Amanda: Birdman. In a sea of biopics, all of which I absolutely loved and enjoyed, this film was daring, different and delightful. It was inspiring while being despondent, naughty while sweet … it just felt like a perfect storm of human emotion. And the music! And the camera work! Birdman was the breath of original filmmaking that I was dying for during this awards season.
Kate: I think Birdman has it. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Boyhood won. I’d be thrilled for either to win.
Chelsey: Boyhood was the most critically revered film of 2014 until Selma came along at the very end. However, the Academy voters this year have proven to be kinda racist so slim chance Selma is taking this one. Based on its technical achievement alone, Boyhood is winning.
Maricela: Oh Ava DuVernay for sure…oh wait, am I living in a better, alternate universe? Oh okay, back to this one, I see this going to Richard Linklater. What he accomplished is unprecedented and I think will have a very profound effect on filmmaking/visual storytelling for years to come. That being said, Alejandro González Iñárritu kicked ASS in Birdman, and I would want him to win even if we didn’t have similar names. But so did Wes Anderson…ah! This is a toughie, but I still think it goes to Linklater.
Amanda: Alejandro González Iñárritu. See above.
Kate: Alejandro González Iñárritu will most likely take and Birdman was a work of art. But it’s well deserved by Richard Linklater for taking on a project like Boyhood.
Maricela: Michael Keaton. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t win. He’s pretty brilliant in Birdman, and while I haven’t seen The Theory of Everything yet, I have a feeling Redmayne won’t win for the main fact that he’s still “young” and Keaton “deserves” it. Hollywood is weird.
Amanda: Indifferent. Eddie is my top crush. Michael blew my mind. Either way I come out a winner.
Kate: I can only hope my beloved Eddie wins, but I have a constant fear that Keaton might win. Not that it is undeserved by Keaton, but that Eddie’s performance was phenomenal and I wish nothing but the best for him.
Chelsey: No way Eddie Redmayne doesn’t win this. He won the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and the SAG. And in the 20-year history of the SAG Awards, 16 of the Best Actors also won the Oscar, including the last eight in a row. (Even though I’m curious to see if any of the voters have seen Jupiter Ascending yet. Might sway their minds the other way…)
Maricela: Julianne Moore. Exact same reasons for winning as Keaton. I’ll also be shocked if she doesn’t win. I know the Academy loves their ingenues (and Meryl Streep), but Julianne Moore “deserves” it this year. And no, I still haven’t seen Still Alice.
Kate: Is this even a competition anymore? Just give it to Julianne Moore already.
Chelsey: Yep. Julianne Moore. (Although in my heart of hearts I really want Marion Cotillard to have this. Everyone go see Two Days One Night right now and bask in her glory.)
Best Supporting Actor
Maricela: JK Simmons. Let’s be real, has anyone else who awards in this category awarded anyone BUT JK Simmons for Whiplash? No, I don’t think so.
Kate: JK Simmons will hands down get it and it is so well deserved.
Chelsey: Guys, I really think Edward Norton has a chance. JK. JK Simmons winning is more assured than even a Neil Patrick Harris song-and-dance number.
Best Supporting Actress
Maricela: Patricia Arquette. Unless they give the ingenue award to Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything. C’mon, Academy, don’t you want CSI: Cyber to announce that the show stars Oscar winner Patricia Arquette? For that alone, I think she’s 80/20 a lock for the award.
Amanda: Emma Stone. Is this based on undying devotion? Partially. But also, her delivery of the big “relevance” speech was so spot on and absolutely perfect. She is incredibly talented and multifaceted and she deserves this credit. It was a breakout/breakAWAY role for her.
Kate: Patricia Arquette. Again, who else is even in the running at this point?
Chelsey: Patricia “I thought there’d be more” Arquette.
Best Original Screenplay
Maricela: The Grand Budapest Hotel! I’m far from the biggest Wes Anderson fanatic, but I adore The Grand Budapest Hotel. I think it’s funny, sad, and powerful in all the right ways. It hits me right in the feels, and I hope it hits the Academy in the same way.
Amanda: The Grand Budapest Hotel! OF COURSE! Have you heard the dialogue in that thing? It is so brilliant.
Kate: Birdman, Boyhood or The Grand Budapest hotel. I don’t even know which one I would vote for if I could.
Chelsey: I see a slim chance Birdman takes this, but I think The Academy wants to give Wes Anderson his due in some way. He’ll take this one for The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Maricela: It’s going to be American Sniper, isn’t it? I have a feeling Paul Thomas Anderson did 10 times the work for Inherent Vice than Jason Hall for American Sniper but whatever the Academy doesn’t care about psychedelic movies.
Kate: It will probably be American Sniper, but I’d be thrilled if Whiplash won.
Chelsey: American Sniper would be predictable, but The Imitation Game would be even more predictable. I’m going with that one.
Best Animated Feature
Maricela: The Lego Movie…just kidding! My money’s on How to Train Your Dragon 2 because the Academy has been rather jingoistic in terms of their reluctance to grant this award to foreign films ever since Miyazaki’s Spirited Away won in 2002. As such, The Song of the Sea (I LOVED The Secret of the Kells) or The Tale of Princess Kaguya (the trailer alone had me mesmerized) should probably win.
Chelsey: The Lego Movie 😦 😦 😦 Idk. Probs Big Hero 6, because it’s the Disney choice.
Best Documentary Feature: It’s a close call between Citizenfour and Finding Vivian Maier. – Chelsey
Best Visual Effects is a really strong category this year with Interstellar and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as my personal top favorites. – Maricela
Best Cinematography: I mean, I inherently knew that Birdman wasn’t shot all in one take, but it had me second guessing the whole time. Super impressive camerawork and if it doesn’t win then I don’t know anything anymore. – Chelsey
Original Music Score: IF HANS ZIMMER DOESN’T WIN FOR HIS MONUMENTAL AND LOUD SCORE FOR INTERSTELLAR I’M GOING TO BLAST IT FROM MY SPEAKERS THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE OSCARS. No, I won’t, but I’ll be pissed. – Maricela
The Grand Budapest Hotel better win for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design. Because, duh. – Chelsey
Best Original Song: Duh, “Glory.” Although, I’ll laugh my ass off if it loses because the Academy just doesn’t give two shits about anyone. – Maricela
Best Foreign Language Film: I’m still so baffled by the exclusion of Two Days One Night, but Ida was also an incredible film and will definitely take the top prize. – Chelsey
The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards debuted last night, Sunday, Feb 8 with much old school fanfare and culminated with poignant, socio-politically relevant “glory.” It just took about 3 million years to finish. With an abundance of performances (More than ever before! Yeah, no shit. I had to tape The Walking Dead AND Better Call Saul!), how did the venerable (and not-so venerable) talents of the music industry fare?
I’m unaccustomed to recommending movies I find bad or, in this case, mediocre. I suppose you could say this is the equivalent of knowingly cooking bland food for house guests, so this is a bit of a new experience for me. So here it goes: I need all of you to take your hard-earned money and go see Jupiter Ascending.
Yes, the movie has a 22% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yes, the script is filled with more clichés and bad dialogue than any Keanu Reeves movie is capable of. And yes, this movie isn’t exactly what we’d call the reemergence of Star Wars. Regardless, go to the theatre. Pay money. Get a ticket. Buy a delicious blue-raspberry Icee. Why? Because this movie had a giant budget and is an original property. You know what that means? It means it’s not a sequel, reboot, remake or based on any novel or comic book.
You see, Hollywood has increasingly become adverse to funding original properties with big budgets. Typically you’ll see maybe one a year if you’re lucky. And who can blame them? Last summer I asked, nay, I begged people to go see Edge of Tomorrow, because it was incredible and yet practically no one saw it in theaters. Before that it was Pacific Rim, which seemed to interest no one (What about giant robots punching giant monsters do people not understand?). Now granted, one of these two is based on a preexisting property, albeit a relatively unknown one. But you can see why producers are wary to risk giving a film big funding if movie-goers won’t go see the ones they do give big budgets to.
Last year I can think of one movie, Interstellar, that fit in the category of a new property that made a lot of money, and I suspect the only reason it got the budget it did was the name recognition of Christopher Nolan.
This brings us back to my original plea: go see Jupiter Ascending. I know you’ve complained, either secretly or out loud, that there seem to be way to many comic book movies out there, or that both Batman and Spider-Man are being rebooted way too soon, or that all we seem to get these days are mediocre sequels and adaptations of terrible books (Can we all pretend 50 Shades of Grey isn’t actually happening?). Well guess what, the universe has seen fit to give us all another chance to show Hollywood that we are ready to reward their financial risks.
Having said all that, let me allay some of your fears about going to see what you could presume to be a humongous pile of crap, because there were some genuinely cool things in this movie. For starters, Jupiter Ascending does some phenomenal world building with dozens of unique alien species, colorful planets and a rich history only briefly hinted at. Action sequences are intense, especially a dog fight over downtown Chicago, and will keep you entertained. You’ll love to see Eddie Redmayne play an incredibly weird and creepy villain who likes to speak through his teeth. And, oh yeah, crazy hover skates. Seriously, I hope those things will be invented by the time the hover skateboard from Back to the Future Part II makes it to the market.
I pray this has been enough to convince you, because I’m telling you true that if this movie makes the big bucks you can expect that another original film will be released in the near future and it will have the budget it deserves and will hopefully be much higher quality.
The nominations are in and the stage is set for another Academy Awards next month. Strangely enough, the Oscar nominees elicit a weird reaction every time they’re announced. Critically the Awards are treated as the hallmark of excellence for film, acting, directing, etc., but often we as a society tend to dismiss them when we don’t agree with the nominees and/or winners. In my discussions with peers, I’ve even heard that awards ceremonies in general are rather pointless due to bias and personal opinion, yet when they talk about an award-winning movie with revere, they’re quick to point out that it won an award. This bi-polar emotion just goes to show that the Academy Awards will never truly win in the court of public opinion.
Perhaps I’m pointing out the obvious here as these are likely feelings or thoughts we’ve all had at one point in time. Of course, there’s also a good bet that most people don’t even think about the Academy Awards at all. Regardless, I believe the Oscars, though flawed and prone to nominate similar films each year, serve a good purpose as far as awards go.
- Giving attention where attention is due
Often we can know a film will be on the nominee list before it even hits theaters. Some, however, surprise us and make it on the list with little to no fanfare. Off the top of my head, Winter’s Bone comes to mind as a film that was nominated for Best Picture and yet few had heard of and likely fewer had seen at the time of its release. It’s a fantastic movie – and notably Jennifer Lawerence’s first big role – that deserved the nomination and one that I might not have discovered otherwise. Often I hear family and friends argue that’s it’s precisely unknown films like Winter’s Bone that turn them off to the Awards because they haven’t seen them (nor, for that matter, do they want to see them).
These feelings were most pronounced in 2008 when the Academy nominated a relatively unknown movie, The Reader, for the fifth Best Picture slot over commercial and critical smash hit The Dark Knight. At the time, I counted myself as one of the many who were upset over what I saw to be a gross bias by the Academy of choosing weird, independent films over superhero ones. I realize now that I’ve never seen The Reader nor can I vouch for its quality, but what I can say is that, whether or not the Academy was mistaken in their nomination, a new movie is on my radar that would otherwise have flown by unnoticed. This list has grown over the years and gives me something to look forward to when considering what I want to watch over the weekend.
- And the winner is …
Sometimes the Academy gets it right. Occasionally their eyes are open, their minds unbiased and the quality of the winners is undisputed. When it happens, I can’t help but sit back, grin and think to myself, “maybe humanity is worth saving.”
Again, this is obviously relative as different people will think different movies/actors/directors deserved to win over the actual winner. However, there’s a distinct difference between a great movie beating another great movie, such as No County for Old Men beating out There Will Be Blood, and a not so great movie like, oh I don’t know, let’s say Chicago beating out the likes of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. A good friend of mine was rooting for There Will Be Blood back in 2007 as we played a good round of Oscar bingo and, while he was disappointed with the final results, felt satisfied knowing that a worthy contender took home the big prize.
If all else fails, the Academy tries to put on a good show. I would wager that anticipation for the dresses and outfits on the red carpet are a bigger deal than the awards themselves sometimes. And if, at the end of the day, you still don’t like, agree with or enjoy the Academy Awards, there are always other awards ceremonies out there to satiate the desire to see your favorite films recognized and honored: the Golden Globes, the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards and – possibly the greatest joke of an awards ceremony – the People’s Choice Awards. But I can almost promise you’ll never see anything as cool as this photo at one of those ceremonies.
In the coming weeks there are two major events that will grip the nation for a Sunday night. The Super Bowl and the Academy Awards are two of the biggest viewing events that have moved beyond the realm of actually viewing the event.
While I’m not much of a sports fan, I’m well aware of the pull that the Super Bowl has on many people. It has long since transcended the level of any other sporting event that I know of, at least for the purposes of American audiences. No one just watches the Super Bowl. No one just wants to know the score of the Super Bowl. Anyone who is going to be involved in it is going to have to be part of a Super Bowl party; they have to be obsessing over the scores; they have been building an obsession for weeks now. At some point people picked a team, and now that team is life. I don’t really understand it, but it sure is motivating for people. And hey, you can even see some great, positive things coming out of this competitive Fandemonium.
The Super Bowl has even become an event for the things that interrupt the action. The Super Bowl commercials get more inspection than some aspects of the game. The halftime show is a huge event in it’s own right. This is clearly more than just a football game.
The Oscars have developed into a similarly transcendent event, although there are some differences. For me, the Oscars act as a sort of finale to the entire awards season. Most of the other awards don’t really carry the same weight as the Oscars. Sometimes you can use the other awards as a gauge for what might win an Oscar. It lets you start cheering for a film, or performer, or song, or whatever you’re in to. But the thing I’ve always noticed, is that the Oscars are it. Even if a film you loved didn’t win a Golden Globe or a People’s Choice, if it wins the Oscar, you feel like you made the right call when you singled it out (I’m personally rooting for the film “Ida” for Foreign Language and Cinematography). The other awards are almost like playoffs for the Oscars, but you could still have a hardcore dark horse win it all.
Also like the Super Bowl, the Oscars lend themselves to a type of party/ceremonial/celebration experience. There is a reason they have plenty of “pre-game” for the Oscars on the red carpet. I mean, I sometimes really hate the people that are talking to the celebrities, but it’s all part of the program.
In some ways, it is almost sad that these two more-than-just-events have to happen relatively close together. It makes the rest of the year (at least years without the Olympics) feel a little bit void of transcendent cultural participation.