Movie Musical Bracket

March 24, 2017

My good buddy, Mike Sheehan, and I recently recorded a podcast episode debating our favorite movie musicals since the year 2000. In celebration of March Madness, we used a bracket-style to determine the rankings, match-ups, and eventually the winner. Here is the process that went with figuring out the rankings and at the bottom is the episode. Enjoy!

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This post is to explain how we came up with the movies and the rankings for our Movie Musical Bracket.

First, we needed a topic and both Mike and I love movie musicals, and statistically there weren’t too many of them to choose from. Well, that’s what we thought at first before realizing there are plenty of classic movie musicals, so to stay clear from them we decided to keep the pool of films to more recent memory. We decided to only allow movie musicals since the year 2000 to be in the bracket, but even deciding that would be a lot of work. Luckily, we found a Buzzfeed article where Louis Peitzman ranked his favorite movie musicals that were released after the year 2000.

Perfect! Until Mike realized it omitted one of his favorite movie musicals: Moulin Rouge. So we just decided to throw that film in the mix as well. So we had Moulin Rouge plus 23 of the films Mr. Peitzman had on his list as the pool of films trying so hard to make it into our bracket. Now we needed to decide how to get that list down to 8.

We decided to have an Objective Score and a Subjective Score. The Objective Score was the sum of the film’s IMDB Rating + 10% of its Rotten Tomatoes Score + the films domestic box office gross/10,000,000 (with 10 being the max score). Basically, each category’s max score would be 10, so a film’s perfect score would be 30. And we felt that the mixture of IMDB (fan voting) + Rotten Tomatoes (critic’s gauge) + Box Office (pop culture relevance) was a fair enough system.

But then we had a Subjective Score, which was our separate rankings of our favorite 8 films from the pool. We ranked them 1 through 8 and used a point system: 15 points to the 1st ranked film, 13 points to the 2nd ranked film, 11 points to the 3rd ranked film, etc. Again, the max score for any film would be 30 points.

After combining all of the scores, we had our rankings. But then we discussed our main problem: what if we disagreed with a match-up? What would the tie-breaking mechanism be? We can’t just flip a coin or have the higher seed win. So we decided that since we’re the ones debating, our rankings should matter as the tie-break. Whenever we have a tie, we would look only at the Subjective Totals and the film with the higher Subjective Score would win. If that also resulted in a tie, then the higher seed won.

And there you have it! Here are how the rankings ended up and the first round match-ups:

1. La La Land (47.7 points)
2. Les Miserables (44.5 points)
3. Once (38.6 points)
4. Moulin Rouge (35.9 points)
5. Tangled (33.7 points)
6. Chicago (30.8 points)
7. Sweeney Todd (30.2 points)
8. Sing Street (28.9 points)

1. La La Land vs. 8. Sing Street
2. Les Miserables vs. 7. Sweeney Todd
3. Once vs. 6. Chicago
4. Moulin Rouge vs. 5. Tangled

Enjoy Episode 25 of Popcorn and Pop Culture Podcast:


Predictions: 85th Academy Awards

February 21, 2013

Here are my final predictions for the Academy Awards this Sunday:

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Best Picture

  • “Amour” Nominees to be determined
  • “Argo” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
  • “Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
  • “Les Misérables” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
  • “Life of Pi” Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers

This is going to be a year to remember in Oscar history.I don’t feel like throwing the stats at you (because I’m tired from all my previous posts), but Argo is making history when it wins Best Picture. It’s a great story, especially for Ben Affleck. For those who don’t understand that there is a lot of campaigning during the awards season, everything fell into the right place to allow for Argo’s huge momentum swing. The hands down critics’ favorite movie of the year was Zero Dark Thirty, but we all know what bad publicity did for that film during awards season. And when the nominees were submitted before the guilds, leaving Affleck off of the Best Director category, well that’s the best thing that could’ve happened for Argo.

Prediction: Argo

Best Lead Actor

  • Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
  • Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
  • Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Some are saying Bradley Cooper has a legitimate shot at winning this. If that happens, then my faith will be completely lost because out of these 5 performances, Cooper is the one that doesn’t fit. But I guess that’s just my opinion. This award is going to DD-L and it will be his third Oscar award, making him the only actor in history with three Best Lead Actor awards. Man, this Oscars telecast is going to be historic!

Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

Best Lead Actress

  • Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

While Jessica Chastain was great in Zero Dark Thirty (and the only nominee who is actually the sole main character in her movie), this category looks all but locked for the most popular actress in the world right now, Jennifer Lawrence. Though I’m hearing that quite a few voters are going for Emmanuelle Riva, so she’s on the alert for an upset possibility.

But when it comes down to it, Chastain’s performance was great but how many voters can really find an emotional connection to her Maya? And for Riva, it would be a great story for her to win on her birthday, but how many voters actually watched Amour (or even enjoyed it)? The same goes for Naomi Watts. Meanwhile, the gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence was the star in a very crowd-pleasing movie. Oh and btdubbs, Lawrence will become the third youngest winner in Oscar history for this category.

Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)

Best Director

  • “Amour” Michael Haneke
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Ang Lee
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell

Here’s a tricky category. If Ben Affleck was nominated, he’d definitely win. But he’s not nominated. Common sense would point to a win for Steven Spielberg since Lincoln is dealing with great success across the board (12 nominations + highest gross of all Best Picture nominees). But then again, if Lincoln was REALLY being perceived so well in the Academy, then why is it losing everything? Aside from Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln has practically been shut out of the awards season. This makes me believe that Spielberg won’t win Best Director, because if he did then Lincoln should win Best Picture.

The same thing can be said about Ang Lee and Life of Pi. With a whopping 11 nominations, if Ang Lee were to really win Best Director, don’t you think Life of Pi would be a major player for Best Picture. And just like Lincoln, it’s not. I don’t believe they’ll win. Which leaves me to the Haneke vs. Russell debate (because frankly, Benh Zeitlin’s award is being nominated). David O. Russell and Silver Linings Playbook is very well-received in the Academy, enough so that I’ll consider him as the front-runner of this category (even though he’ll be the first director to win this award WITHOUT a DGA nominee. But heck, this is a history-breaking Oscar ceremony so let’s keep the ball rolling!). But I’m going to use my upset pick here and say Haneke will get the award.

Prediction: Michael Haneke (Amour)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Alan Arkin in “Argo”
  • Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
  • Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

This is another tricky category. Everyone here has won an Oscar before, so there’s none of that newcomer vs. veteran discussion. I think it’s going to come down to how much the Academy likes certain movies. If they absolutely love Argo that much, then Alan Arkin will win. Then again, there seems to be a lot of support for Silver Linings Playbook and they’re pushing for De Niro since he hasn’t won in 31 years. And then there’s Christoph Waltz, whom EVERYONE likes. Man, this is a tough one but I think they’ll actually reward the actor who gave the best performance.

Prediction: Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams in “The Master”
  • Sally Field in “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
  • Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Some will make an argument for Sally Field, but I don’t see that happening.

Prediction: Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)

Best Original Screenplay

  • “Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained” Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight” Written by John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal

At first, it looked like Mark Boal was on his way to another Oscar for his screenplay, but Zero Dark Thirty hit a wave of bad publicity practically ruining it. So we have Haneke vs. Tarantino, and Tarantino can’t walk away without an Oscar, right?

Prediction: Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • “Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
  • “Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell

Another toss up here between Chris Terrio and Tony Kushner. Does the Academy love Argo that much, or just Ben Affleck? We’ll find out soon.

Prediction: Chris Terrio (Argo)

Best Animated Feature

  • “Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
  • “Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
  • “ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
  • “Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore

Prediction: Wreck-It Ralph

Best Cinematography

  • “Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
  • “Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
  • “Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
  • “Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski
  • “Skyfall” Roger Deakins

Will this be the year that Roger Deakins finally wins the Oscar? You have to feel for the guy, but nonetheless year after year he does great work. But how do you contend with the cinematography in Life of Pi?

Prediction: Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi)

Best Film Editing

  • “Argo” William Goldenberg
  • “Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
  • “Lincoln” Michael Kahn
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

This is a packed category. I’d like to imagine that if there were only five Best Picture nominees, these would be the five films. But I feel the Argo train will take this one.

Prediction: William Goldenberg (Argo)

Best Foreign Language Film

  • “Amour” Austria
  • “Kon-Tiki” Norway
  • “No” Chile
  • “A Royal Affair” Denmark
  • “War Witch” Canada

Prediction: Amour

Best Costume Design

  • “Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
  • “Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
  • “Lincoln” Joanna Johnston
  • “Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood

Prediction: Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina)

Best Documentary

  • “5 Broken Cameras”, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
  • “The Gatekeepers”, Nominees to be determined
  • “How to Survive a Plague”, Nominees to be determined
  • “The Invisible War”, Nominees to be determined
  • “Searching for Sugar Man”, Nominees to be determined

Prediction: Searching for Sugar Man

Best Documentary, Short Subject

  • “Inocente” Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • “Kings Point” Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • “Mondays at Racine” Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • “Open Heart” Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • “Redemption” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Prediction: Inocente

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • “Hitchcock” Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
  • “Les Misérables” Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Prediction: Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

Best Original Score

  • “Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
  • “Argo” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
  • “Lincoln” John Williams
  • “Skyfall” Thomas Newman

Prediction: Mychael Danna (Life of Pi)

Best Original Song

  • “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice” Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted” Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi” Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • “Skyfall” from “Skyfall” Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
  • “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables” Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Prediction: Skyfall

Best Production Design

  • “Anna Karenina” Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
  • “Les Misérables” Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
  • “Life of Pi” Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “Lincoln” Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Prediction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer (Anna Karenina)

Best Animated, Short

  • “Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
  • “Fresh Guacamole” PES
  • “Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
  • “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”” David Silverman
  • “Paperman” John Kahrs

Prediction: Paperman

Best Live Action, Short

  • “Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
  • “Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
  • “Curfew” Shawn Christensen
  • “Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
  • “Henry” Yan England

Prediction: Death of a Shadow

Best Sound Editing

  • “Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
  • “Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
  • “Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
  • “Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson

Prediction: Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton (Life of Pi)

Best Sound Mixing

  • “Argo” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
  • “Les Misérables” Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
  • “Life of Pi” Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
  • “Lincoln” Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
  • “Skyfall” Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Prediction: Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes (Les Misérables)

Best Visual Effects

  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
  • “Life of Pi” Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers” Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
  • “Prometheus” Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

Prediction: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott (Life of Pi)


Top Ten Films of 2012

January 21, 2013

How did 2012 treat you? For me there were really no big changes in my life, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing yet. I guess I’ll determine that a few years down the line, but as content as I am, 2012 was actually a very good year for films. It was a huge year for blockbusters with The Avengers and The Hunger Games and in addition, we saw some HUGE franchises come to an end with The Dark Knight Rises and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2.

Also, it was a very good year for all genres across the board. While I’m not a horror fan, I have to admit that The Cabin in the Woods is probably my favorite horror since The Descent. As for comedies, while there wasn’t a film like Bridesmaids this year, there were still some good ones like Pitch Perfect, 21 Jump Street and even the darker Seven Psychopaths.

But now it’s time to get on with it. Here are my top movies of 2012:

10. Flight

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Denzel Washington gives a powerful performance as an alcoholic pilot who saves many lives by crash-landing a damaged plane. Zemeckis returns to live action with a drama about a man’s journey to admit he is an addict. The opening plane crash scene is truly terrifying to watch.

My full review here.

9. The Impossible

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Based on a true story of a family who is separated by the 2004 tsunami that hit south Asia, The Impossible packs a huge punch that will hit straight to your heart. A great family drama that gives you hope when you believe all hope is lost. Excellent performances by Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Thomas Holland.

My full review here.

8. Moonrise Kingdom

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A story about two kids finding friendship for the first time and mistaking it for love, and how their parents don’t know how to handle themselves when they run away. This Wes Anderson feature was his most mainstream film yet while still maintaining his quirky characters. This was a delightful, little movie.

7. Silver Linings Playbook

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Jennifer Lawrence cashes in on her big year with a stellar performance in this crowd-pleasing dramedy. Dealing with mental illness, relationships, and dysfunctional families, Silver Linings Playbook had everything you want from an adult comedy.

6. Beasts of the Southern Wild

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The most poetic film of the year, but still mainstream enough to keep the audience’s attention, this indie-gem proves that there is still room for imagination in cinema. You will fall in love with Quvenzhane Wallis and marvel at Dwight Henry’s performance, neither with any acting credits prior. What a magical film this is.

My full review here.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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The most memorable high school film in a very long time, Stephen Chbosky (novelist, screenwriter, and director) makes his characters come to life in this film that hits upon several serious issues that high-schoolers face, such as discovering yourself, peer pressure, and personal trauma, to name a few. Complete with a trio of young, talented actors (Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller), this film will make you laugh as much as it will make you cry.

My full review here.

4. Les Misérables

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A marvelous adaptation of the beloved musical and novel, Hooper’s direction brings you up close and personal with the characters in Les Misérables. Full of tragedy, action, and love, the movie rendition of this epic is one that will last for many years to come. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman give natural, show-stopping performances.

My full review here.

3. Argo

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A true Hollywood movie, Ben Affleck constructs another hit with the “based on a true story” thriller of how a CIA agent rescued six Americans in Iran during the hostage crisis by developing a fake sci-fi film. Argo is funny, suspenseful, and very well-made from beginning to end.

2. Zero Dark Thirty

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Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker takes on a grand project about the story of how Osama Bin Laden was finally located and killed. Lead-woman Jessica Chastain gives a controlled and confident performance as Maya, the CIA analyst who took a decade to compile enough intelligence to track down Bin Laden. The procedure plays out like a classic mystery, but the final raid from the Navy SEALs provides for arguably the most tense moments of any film this year.

My full review here.

1. Life of Pi

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Truly my favorite and the most powerful movie experience in 2012, Life of Pi was able to transcend what you expect to receive from watching a film. The ideas that the film suggests remain embedded in my mind since my trip to the theaters. Ang Lee adapted a so-called “unfilmable story” with such success that should (if not already) cement him with legendary status as a director. Life of Pi simply makes you think about your faith and your life in a way that no other film has done before.

My full review here.

Honorable Mention (alphabetical order): Django Unchained, Looper, The Master, The Sessions, and Skyfall.


Live Blogging: The 70th Annual Golden Globes

January 13, 2013

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So it’s Sunday night and the Patriots seem to have the Texans down for the count, so all that’s left to do for the weekend is watch the Golden Globes! Of course, I have Girls, Shameless and Happy Endings on my DVR for later tonight, but here we go! This is everyone’s favorite celebrity party, mixing the television stars with the movie stars with dinner and alcohol flowing all night long. Let’s get started!

8:00 – Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are the co-hosts and give a silly opening performance. “The beautiful people of film get to rub shoulders with the rat-faced people of television.” There was also a joke for Kathryn Bigelow that targeted James Cameron and torture that received the most uncomfortable laughs and hands covering faces. Overall, a good start to the telecast.

8:09 – Christoph Waltz wins the first Globe award for Best Supporting Actor in Django Unchained. Will this be a sign for things to come? Robert De Niro wasn’t nominated, but the HFPA awarded Waltz over Tommy Lee Jones.

8:12 – Maggie Smith wins Best Supporting Actress for a Series, Mini-Series, or Film Made for Television in Downtown Abbey. Can Downtown Abbey win Best Television Drama? I wouldn’t be too surprised.

8:17 – Best Mini-Series or TV Movie goes to Game Change. HBO is still king of the TV Movie.

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8:21 – Julianne Moore wins Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie. I still prefer Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin though… and I prefer Moore as an adulterer.

8:29 – The president of the HFPA asks the cameras to pan the crowd of tv and movie stars, but that never happens.

8:33 – Damian Lewis wins for Best Actor in a TV Drama, in a very talented and packed category. I wonder if Homeland is going to sweep its way through the Globes like it did at the Emmys.

8:35 – Paul Rudd and Salma Hayek have nothing to read on the teleprompter and couldn’t even ab-lib. Anyway, the award was for Best TV Series and Homeland wins. Will Claire Danes finish the trifecta? For the record, while I loved the second season of Homeland, it wasn’t as good as the first and was it really better than Downtown Abbey, Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire?

8:43 – Tony Mendez and John Goodman announces Argo, one of the year’s best films and up for Best Drama Film.

8:45 – Mychael Danna wins for his tremendous score in the film Life of Pi. Also, Jason Statham is so strong he practically rips the golden envelope in half!

8:48 – And Adele continues her insane popularity with a win for Best Song for “Skyfall.” Is it me or is almost every winner so far British?

8:55 – Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie goes to Kevin Costner in “Hatfields & McCoys.” Speaking of Kevin Costner, what has he been up to? Last thing I remember him from was Mr. Brooks, but that was in 2007.

8:59 – Bill Clinton gets a standing ovation and announces Lincoln.

9:03 – The only thing funnier than Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig’s announcement of the Best Actress – Musical or Comedy nominations was the close-up of Tommy Lee Jones totally miserable. And Jennifer Lawrence ends up with the Golden Globe award! She really is the hottest actress in Hollywood at the moment and there’s a very good chance she can ride this wave of success all the way to the Oscars.

9:12 – Is it really fair to group the supporting actors in television in one category? Did Max Greenfield really stand a chance against Ed Harris?

9:15 – Anne Hathaway wins for Best Supporting Actress, basically for singing “I Dreamed a Dream” in Les Miserables. This is her first Golden Globe win in three nominations. She is certainly the favorite going into the Oscars for Best Supporting Actress, which would be her first win in her career.

Sometimes you can tell when an acceptance speech is going to be awesome or not. For instance, Hathaway’s speech made me cringe and she went on far too long, but I swear if Amy Poehler wins for Best Actress they better not cut her off no matter what!

9:24 – Why would they combine Original and Adapted Screenplays? And I’m utterly surprised that Quentin Tarantino beat out the likes of Tony Kushner and Chris Terrio. Like he just said, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting this!” No one was.

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This does raise some questions now at the Oscars. Does this put Tarantino as favorite to beat out Haneke and Boal for Original Screenplay? It just might.

9:27 – Don Cheadle wins for Best Actor in a Comedy for Television. So are you guys keeping count? Because it seems like Showtime is kicking some ass right now. Even though I haven’t watched House of Lies, it’s got to be good to beat out Jim Parsons and Louis C.K.

9:34 – Amour wins for Best Foreign Film and no one is surprised. Note: Michael Haneke is awesome.

9:37 – Claire Danes wins for Best Drama Actress in TV. Homeland wins the trifecta! But the real thing to note on is what the crap is up with Lea Michele’s tan?

9:46 – Sacha Baron Cohen yelled about his co-stars in Les Miserables and then announces Brave to win Best Animated Picture.

9:49 – Just watched the 30-second clip of Life of Pi and it reminded me of how brilliant that movie was. It’s unlikely, but Ang Lee would win my vote for the year’s best director.

9:50 – Aziz Ansari is acting high from “biscuits” that the cast of Downtown Abbey gave him. Anyway, Lena Dunham wins for Best TV Actress in Girls. Speaking of, the second season premiered tonight and I still have yet to realize all the hooplah about the show.

Note: Whenever a first time winner pulls out a piece of paper, you should just cue the music immediately.

Commercial: Kerri Russell is looking mighty fine in her new show, The Americans.

10:03 – Cecil B. DeMille Award for Jodie Foster, the two-time Oscar winner. What a beautiful speech.

10:16 – Ben Affleck wins Best Director! A nice consolation for being snubbed at the Oscars, something that no one could have predicted for his incredible film, Argo. When it comes down to it, Ben Affleck belongs with the group of the year’s best directors and has really showcased his talent behind the camera in the recent years of his career. He has become one of our generation’s best mainstream directors and there’s no doubt he’ll receive his due from the Academy in the near future.

10:22 – Girls wins for Best TV Comedy/Musical. Robyn’s music plays while the cast of Girls walks through the entire hall to receive their award. This is the first cable-show to win Best TV Comedy in five years. Will the Emmys follow suit or will the Emmys continue to award Modern Family?

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10:30 – Hugh Jackman wins for Best Actor – Comedy/Musical. Les Miserables has won two acting awards, but again the Globes separate the Comedy/Musical from the real movies. Still, Hugh Jackman gave a great performance in Les Miserables and there is no other actor that could’ve played Jean Valjean like he did.

Don’t you think that the Golden Globes should be aired on cable so they can allow the actors to curse as they please? I think there’s a big audience for that.

10:40 – Les Miserables wins for Best Comedy/Musical. I still feel Silver Linings Playbook is one of the biggest competitions for Lincoln, and in a way it’s good that it didn’t win the Golden Globes because in the past eight years, there have only been two Best Picture winners at the Oscars that won the Golden Globes Best Picture (Drama or Comedy/Musical).

10:47 – Jessica Chastain wins for Best Actress and now the Chastain vs. Lawrence discussion will really heat up. Note: Chastain gives the best acceptance speech of the night (not counting Foster).

10:50 – SURPRISE! Daniel Day-Lewis wins for Best Actor… okay obviously it wasn’t a surprise and it won’t be when he wins his third Oscar in February.

10:57 – Argo wins Golden Globes as expected. So that means this awards season is shaping up like in 2011 when The Social Network won the Globes’ Directing and Picture while The King’s Speech only won for Best Drama Actor (Colin Firth). And we all know that The King’s Speech wound up winning four of the major Oscar awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

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The Golden Globes was a fun ceremony. The big winners were Girls, Homeland, Argo and Les Miserables. Now it’s time for me to watch the Girls premiere since the HFPA thinks its the best comedy on the air.


The 85th Annual Academy Awards Nominations

January 10, 2013

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So the Oscar nominations were just announced by Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone, and needless to say there were plenty of surprises. This was one great year of film and many of the categories were crowded so everyone knew there were going to be snubs, but damn, I’m still shocked at how the Academy voted here. I can’t go on without first commenting on probably the most important and the most crowded category: Best Director.

Best Director:

  • Michael Hanake (Amour)
  • Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
  • David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
  • Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Just WOW. I doubt ANYONE had these five nominees predicted for this category, because it excludes two huge names that were practically considered locks for Best Director. These include Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty and Ben Affleck for Argo. Both of those two films have been all the talk leading up to these nominations and have been the movies that have been said are serious threats to Lincoln for Best Picture. Well, not anymore! The Best Director category has always been a great precursor to what film is going to win Best Picture. If that remains true, then there is no doubt in my mind that Lincoln is the front-runner and will most likely win both Best Director for Steven Spielberg and Best Picture. Although, there is the outside chance that Best Director and Best Picture will split.

To me, the biggest surprise was Benh Zeitlin receiving a nomination for Beasts of the Southern Wild, a small independent gem that I had just “sneaking in” for Best Picture. But with this nomination, Beasts of the Southern Wild bumps itself up to an actual potential upset candidate. The same goes for Silver Linings Playbook and Amour, two films that I really didn’t think would crack the Best Director category. With all of these surprises, that simply means directors got snubbed including Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), and Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master).

So what does this mean? Well, while I’m glad Ang Lee and the others got their recognition, all of this really just proves how Lincoln is going to sweep this year’s Oscars. Hey, can’t say I didn’t tell you so months ago.

Best Picture:

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Miserables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Since the rule change, it’s kind of exciting to try and predict how many films are going to be nominated for Best Picture. This year, there was a consensus that nine films would receive nominations and that was right. The only real surprise out of the nine films was Amour receiving a nomination, but then again now since Haneke and Riva in the mix, it’s a serious contender. But overall, this is a very good group of films nominated and you can’t say otherwise.

Best Actor:

  • Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
  • Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
  • Denzel Washington (Flight)

No big surprises here, although after what Joaquin Phoenix said I was a bit worried that would affect his chances to get nominated. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t think Bradley Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook was that great, but Silver Linings Playbook is obviously loved by the Academy, so his nomination makes sense. Unfortunately this leaves out John Hawkes who gave a challenging and spectacular performance in The Sessions.

Best Actress:

  • Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
  • Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  • Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

There were really no surprises here, although I did predict Marion Cotillard to get a nomination for Rust and Bone. Just a note: Emmanuelle Riva is the oldest Best Actress nomination at 85 years old and Quvenzhane Wallis is the youngest at 9 years old (she was 6 years old when she shot the film). Incredible!

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Alan Arkin (Argo)
  • Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
  • Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
  • Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Damn! I almost had one category predicted correctly! Instead of Christoph Waltz I included Javier Bardem (Skyfall). Like Emma Stone said after she announced the nominations, all of these actors have won an Oscar before.

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Amy Adams (The Master)
  • Sally Field (Lincoln)
  • Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
  • Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
  • Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Only one minor surprise here and that was Jacki Weaver’s nomination.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Michael Haneke (Amour)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
  • John Gatins (Flight)
  • Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
  • Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)

Once again I was 4/5 with my predictions. I thought Rian Johnson was going to get in for his screenplay for Looper, but John Gatins got in instead. I have no problem with that because Flight was a better film that Looper. Just looking at these nominees and you get a lot of screenwriting heavyweights.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Chris Terrio (Argo)
  • Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  • David Magee (Life of Pi)
  • Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
  • David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

There’s no surprise here since all of these films are contenders for Best Picture. I was hoping that Stephen Chbosky was going to receive a nomination for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but that was more hopeful than anything.

I’m just going to list the rest of the nominees. Once again, the Best Director category really shines a light to how the Oscars could potentially have a Lincoln sweep. With 12 total nominations, it’s hard to imagine Lincoln walking away with anything less than 7 awards.

Best Animated Feature:

  • Brave
  • Frankenweenie
  • ParaNorman
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  • Wreck-It Ralph

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Amour (Austria)
  • War Witch (Canada)
  • No (Chile)
  • A Royal Affair (Denmark)
  • Kon-Tiki (Norway)

Best Achievement in Cinematography:

  • Seamus McGarvey (Anna Karenina)
  • Robert Richardson (Django Unchained)
  • Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi)
  • Janusz Kaminski (Lincoln)
  • Roger Deakins (Skyfall)

Best Achievement in Editing

  • William Goldenberg (Argo)
  • Tim Squyres (Life of Pi)
  • Michael Kahn (Lincoln)
  • Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers (Silvers Linings Playbook)
  • William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor (Zero Dark Thirty)

Best Achievement in Production Design

  • Anna Karenina
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln

Best Achievement in Costume Design

  • Anna Karenina
  • Les Misérables
  • Lincoln
  • Mirror Mirror
  • Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Hitchcock
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Les Misérables

Best Original Score

  • Anna Karenina
  • Argo
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Skyfall

Best Original Song

  • “Before My Time” (Chasing Ice)
  • “Suddenly” (Les Misérables)
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” (Life of Pi)
  • “Skyfall: (Skyfall)
  • “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” (Ted)

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

  • Argo
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Skyfall

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

  • Argo
  • Django Unchained
  • Life of Pi
  • Skyfall
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

  • The Avengers
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Life of Pi
  • Prometheus
  • Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Documentary, Features

  • 5 Broken Cameras
  • The Gatekeepers
  • How to Survive a Plague
  • The Invisible War
  • Searching for Sugar Man

Best Documentary, Short Subject

  • Inocente
  • Kings Point
  • Mondays at Racine
  • Open Heart
  • Redemption

Best Short Film, Animated

  • Adam and Dog
  • Fresh Guacamole
  • Head Over Heels
  • Paperman
  • The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare

Best Short Film, Live Action

  • Asad
  • Buzkashi Boys
  • Curfew
  • Death of a Shadow
  • Henry

Movie Review: Les Misérables (2012)

December 28, 2012

Les Misérables (2012)
157 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Tom Hooper
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe

les-miserables-poster

Grade: A-

You will find yourself in one of two categories: those who enjoy musicals and those who don’t. For the people who have lived under a rock for their entire life, Les Miserables is a musical and frankly, if you don’t like musicals then you really have no place in seeing Les Miserables, nor should anyone take what you say about it seriously. I mean, if you hate war movies you’re going to eventually tell me that Saving Private Ryan didn’t do it for you.

But for anyone who loves musicals, Les Misérables should without a doubt be near the top of their list (if it doesn’t actually top their list). It is beloved by many fans and a story originally told by Victor Hugo about a poor Frenchman who finds redemption after being punished for stealing a loaf of bread. At the throne of this epic musical is Tom Hooper, already an Oscar winner from just two years ago for The King’s Speech and also well-known for his work in HBO’s John Adams. There are obvious reasons why Les Misérables appealed to Hooper, but there were plenty of questions asked about how he would adapt the theater rendition of Hugo’s grand story.

The answers are mostly fulfilling, starting with the cast that absolutely solidified their stardom (or catapulted themselves into stardom). Hugh Jackman was the only choice as Jean Valjean in Hooper’s eyes and I cannot agree with him anymore. Jackman has the acting chops of a professional, the singing ability that has made him a Broadway regular, and the physique that complimented Jean Valjean in every way possible. There is no other actor that could’ve played this role as well as Jackman did.

His nemesis is Javert, played by Russell Crowe. Out of all the singing actors it took me the most time to get used to Crowe’s voice. Unaware that he could sing at all, and also equipped with the weakest voice in the cast, Crowe made up with his intimidating presence and intense stares. Javert is tracking down Valjean who escaped his parole and this puts Crowe and Jackman head-to-head in a handful of songs. Crowe also has a few solos, one including the powerful “Stars,” which was one of the moments when a stronger singer could have certainly enhanced Javert’s role.

After Jean Valjean rediscovers himself, he inadvertently ignores the cries from a young woman, Fantine (Hathaway), which sends her sprawling in a downward spiral of prostitution just to have money for her daughter, Cosette. Though Hathaway had a minor part in the movie, she absolutely steals the show in the first half. Her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” is a show-stopper and the first real tear-jerking moment of Les Misérables (there are plenty of tear-jerking moments). I had to resist myself from standing up in my theater seat and applauding after “I Dreamed a Dream” was done, it was that magical.

It’s hard for me not to compare the musical with the theater musical, but I know I shouldn’t because it’s a different medium and each have their limitations and benefits. But I feel theater or on-screen, the roles of Thenardier and Madame Thenardier are the same, to provide comic relief during a very emotional and dramatic story. On paper, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are the right people for the roles, but their performance simply didn’t provide the laughs that they were aiming for. “Master of the House” is supposed to be great, fun sing-a-long for the cast and for the audience, but the rendition in the movie was one so exaggerated and flat that will make you question why it’s included in the story at all.

After Jean Valjean buys Cosette from the Thenardiers, the story skips ahead for the last time in the movie and provides us with a strong plot in France, the student revolution. With the backdrop of riots and screaming boys about ideas of a new king, there is a love-triangle that makes its way to the front. Cosette (Seyfried) has grown up and experiences a love-at-first-sight with Marius (Redmayne), a supporter of the revolution. Meanwhile, the daughter of the Thernardiers, Eponine (Barks) is caught in the middle of their love story as she has feelings for Marius but is the only one that could connect Marius and Cosette together. With her heart breaking, she does what she knows will make Marius happy.

The trio during “A Heart Full of Love” is one that impressed me the most. I knew what kind of singer Barks was, but Seyfried and Redmayne really fell into their roles and provided the film with a great romantic couple to drive the love story in Les Miserables forward. But back to Samantha Barks, her performance of the fan-favorite “On My Own” in the rain was one of the most powerful moments in the entire film. The 22-year-old has a bright future ahead of her.

As someone who watched the Broadway musical three times, there were plenty of alterations that the movie made, such as the sequence of songs and events, to clarify the juggling of characters and intertwining plots. While many are criticizing the close-ups that Hooper decided to shoot, I think that enhanced the experience of the musical compared to the theater experience. On Broadway, you don’t have the benefit of seeing great acting done right in front of you. Here, the actors don’t have Broadway voices, but they can certainly act the hell out of the songs, something you can never find on Broadway. So the close-ups and the uncut song sequences show a level of intimacy that raises the emotion that everyone in theater will envy.

Also, it’s evident that the movie took an acting-over-singing approach, especially with the live-recording process. So I asked myself which version of my favorite songs do I prefer? And while the Broadway actors would have their voices soaring high into the cheap seats, I’d much rather prefer a dying character’s voice to crack and whisper rather belt out a song-ending note. This was the case for songs like “Fantine’s Death” and “A Little Fall of Rain.”

Overall, this movie is one where Les Misérables fans will be rejoicing about for years to come. There is finally a music version that every fan can own on DVD and watch endlessly and be well-satisfied from the result. Song highlights include the crescendo of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” and the uplifting ensemble track of “One Day More.” But there were some bumps in the road like “Master of the House” and even the woeful “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” where I felt could have benefited greatly from special effects. Nonetheless, Les Misérables was a great epic for people of all ages, just as long as you like musicals.


2013 Golden Globes Nominations

December 13, 2012

golden-globes-logo

Here are the nominees:

UPDATE: Check out all the winners and thoughts about the telecast here.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Leading Actor – Drama

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Richard Gere (Arbitrage)
John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Denzel Washington (Flight)

Best Leading Actress – Drama

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
Helen Mirren (Hitchcock)
Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea)

Best Motion Picture – Comedy, Musical

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Miserables
Moonrise Kingdom
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Lead Actor – Comedy, Musical

Jack Black (Bernie)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)
Bill Murray (Hyde Park on Hudson)

Best Lead Actress – Comedy, Musical

Emily Blunt (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)
Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Maggie Smith (Quartet)
Meryl Streep (Hope Springs)

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin (Argo)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy)

Best Director

Ben Affleck (Argo)
Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)

Best Screenplay

Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Chris Terrio (Argo)

So the SAG Awards nominations came in yesterday and now the Golden Globes nominations are in. Let me just begin with the obvious for anyone who’s been following the awards race: Django Unchained got a MAJOR boost from the Golden Globes. It was practically off the list of contenders until today. Django Unchained tied Argo with a total of 5 nominations including Best Picture – Drama and a Best Director nod for Quentin Tarantino. Why is this substantial? Well, with Tarantino and also Ang Lee in the jam-packed Best Director race now, this bumps down David O. Russell and Tom Hooper who weren’t nominated. How will this potentially affect the Best Picture race? According to In Contention, only four films in history have won Best Picture at the Oscars without a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director. Those films include Crash, Driving Miss Daisy, The Sting and Chariots of Fire.

In the past, I would be quick to say that the Golden Globes don’t matter and doesn’t weigh in on how the Oscars play out. This year… well it’s a little different. The ballots for the Oscar nominations go out in FOUR days. That’s before the other major guilds release their nominations. So for people who usually depend on the DGA and the PGA for which movies to vote for, it ain’t happening this year. All those people will have are a handful of critics awards, the SAG Awards nominations and the Golden Globes. It’s actually kind of scary to think about the possibilities of Academy members being influence by the Golden Globes.

But as the race is still shaping up, there has been a trend that is indicating what I posted in early November: Lincoln is destined to win Best Picture. With no directing nod for Tom Hooper at the Globes, and no Best Ensemble nod for Zero Dark Thirty, these things bring down the two top contenders a notch. Meanwhile, Lincoln is still standing tall, with a nice box office gross, great reviews, and support from the SAGs and HFPA. Sure, the race is still very early but as of right now, all signs are pointing to a Lincoln victory come February 24th.


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