All posts by bryansnotlyin

My SAG Thoughts and Predictions 2016

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Did somebody say AWARD SEASON!? Oh wait: I diiiiiiiiiid!

Tonight are the Screen Actors Guild Awards, a decent indicator of what we may (or may not) see at the Oscars on February 28th. The two voting bodies have a ton of crossover. While the Golden Globes and Producer’s Guild have already handed out their awards, they sit on opposite sides of the prediction scale. The Golden Globes are a semi-joke (especially Matt-Damon-as-Mark-Watney-in-The-Martianfor TV). Movie-wise, they split comedy and drama in a wacky way just to get as many famous people in the room. Then they give away as many awards as they can to the top nominees. Having Leonardo DiCaprio AND Matt Damon winning doesn’t do any favors to people trying to figure out the one person who will take home the Academy Award. (Plus, Damon isn’t even nominated here…)

On the other hand, the Producer’s Guild is almost perfect at predicting the Oscar Winner for Best Picture. This year they went with a total surprise: ‘The Big Short’. Needless to say, this is going to be the most unpredictable Oscars in a while and hopefully the SAG awards tonight can clarify some of the uncertainty. However, if you compare the Oscar and SAG nominations, they are so all over the place and inconsistent with each other that it may not make a difference who wins tonight. We’ll see, won’t we?!

Below I break down the top film categories.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

BEASTS OF NO NATION (Netflix)

THE BIG SHORT (Paramount Pictures)

SPOTLIGHT (Open Road Films)

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Universal Pictures)

TRUMBO (Bleecker Street)

Fun Fact: In the past 15 years, this winner has only predicted the Best Picture winner 8 the-big-short-movietimes. This is probably due to the fact that it’s an ensemble acting award and does not encompass the entire film.

My Two Cents:  I think we’re going to see ‘The Big Short’ or ‘Spotlight’ win, but I’ll say ‘The Big Short’, as it has the PGA on its side. Funny enough, those two movies are the only two nominated for the Oscars’ biggest award out of these five.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

BRYAN CRANSTON / Dalton Trumbo – “TRUMBO”

JOHNNY DEPP / James “Whitey” Bulger – “BLACK MASS”

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO / Hugh Glass – “THE REVENANT”

MICHAEL FASSBENDER / Steve Jobs – “STEVE JOBS”

EDDIE REDMAYNE / Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe – “THE DANISH GIRL”

Fun Fact:  In the past 15 years the SAGs have predicted the Oscar winner 11 times. Those leonardo-dicaprio-revenant-trailer-buried-alive-09291511 have been for a current streak of–wait for it–11 years.

My Two Cents: I don’t think the Leo will lose this award, especially because Depp is standing in for Damon if we were to compare these to the Oscar nominations. As much as SAG loves Cranston (and ‘Trumbo’ in general), DiCaprio’s biggest competition would come from Damon and he’s just not here. The Oscars will be interesting, but probably not–or will they?!

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

CATE BLANCHETT / Carol Aird – “CAROL”

BRIE LARSON / Ma – “ROOM”

HELEN MIRREN / Maria Altmann – “WOMAN IN GOLD”

SAOIRSE RONAN / Eilis – “BROOKLYN”

SARAH SILVERMAN / Laney Brooks – “I SMILE BACK”

Fun Fact: In the past 15 years, the SAGs have predicted the Oscar for this category 11 times.room_1 If there was an asterisk on this stat, it would be that the 2008 Academy Award winner, Kate Winslet (The Reader), was nominated in the supporting category for the SAGs, so they couldn’t have gotten it right. This record could be a hypothetical 12 for 15, if you take that into consideration.

My Two Cents: Brie isn’t going to lose. Blanchett and Ronan are the other two Oscar nominated actresses and Larson’s Ma is still the talk of the town. I’d be surprised to see her upset here, unless Blanchett is so much of darling that they give it to her, again.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

CHRISTIAN BALE / Michael Burry – “THE BIG SHORT”

BTS_ROOM_DAY170115IDRIS ELBA / Commandant – “BEASTS OF NO NATION”

MARK RYLANCE / Abel Rudolph – “BRIDGE OF SPIES”

MICHAEL SHANNON / Rick Carver – “99 HOMES”

JACOB TREMBLAY / Jack – “ROOM”

Fun Fact: In the past 15 years, the SAGs have predicted the Oscars 9 times.

My Two Cents: Bale and Rylance are the only two carry overs from the Oscar nominations, but I think this is our surprise of the night. I’m gonna say that the actor voting body is totally on the ‘Room’ train and nine year old Jacob Tremblay takes home the statue. (Note: It is totally unacceptable that he’s not nominated for an Oscar, but then again, Sylvester Stallone is going to win for playing Rocky Balboa in ‘Creed’, so I’m okay with that in general.)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

ROONEY MARA / Therese Belivet – “CAROL”

RACHEL McADAMS / Sacha Pfeiffer – “SPOTLIGHT”

HELEN MIRREN / Hedda Hopper – “TRUMBO”

ALICIA VIKANDER / Gerda Wegener – “THE DANISH GIRL”

KATE WINSLET / Joanna Hoffman – “STEVE JOBS”

Fun Fact: In the past 15 years, this SAG category has predicted the Oscar winner 11 times. Same stat goes for the 2008 Kate Winslet oddity.

My Two Cents: This is actually pretty tough. Jennifer Jason Leigh is nominated for the Oscar instead of Mirren. Jason Leigh could actually win, as Tarantino movies have recently alicia.vikanderhad a penchant for getting awards for supporting roles. I think that Winslet, Vikander, and Mara all have excellent chances of winning, but for the sake of making a choice I’ll say Vikander. She’ll win, not only because she’s excellent, but because she has had an incredible breakout year (‘Ex Machina’, ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’) and her part is really a lead, so she had more to work with in ‘The Danish Girl’.

Are you interested in what I think will win for TV? I knew you were! Here’s a quick rundown:

Drama: Game of Thrones

1-danyComedy: Transparent

Actor (Drama): Jon Hamm

Actress (Drama): Viola Davis

Actor (Comedy): Jeffrey Tambor

Actress (Comedy): Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Actor (TV Movie/Miniseries): Idris Elba

Actress (TV Movie/Miniseries): Queen Latifa

So, I hope you enjoy your evening watching the awards or your tomorrow morning when OSCARS-2014you read the list of winners online. As I mentioned, hopefully we’ll have a clear vision into the future Oscar-wise. If anything, I hope we get some solid speeches by some incredible actors and actress. And don’t you worry (I know you were), before the Oscars I’ll make sure to post my thoughts and predictions. 

Keep On Watchin’!

-Bryan

The Goldbergs (aka My New Favorite Thing, Ever)

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I don’t know how this show slipped by me. Multiple people begged me to watch it and I didn’t. The original reviews were not terrible and the positive elements happen to feature aspects of the show that speak directly to my inner TV/Movie nerd. I mean, it’s a show about a Jewish family growing up just outside of Philadelphia in the 1980s–based on a Adam F. Goldberg’s real life experiences. He went to the same camp as me (sort of) for crying out loud! But here I am, having just binged watched three and a half seasons of what is now one of my favorite sitcoms on TV.

It was a dark and stormy Wednesday night in January and I was alone in my New York tumblr_ncssomsGPW1rdutw3o1_400City Harlem apartment. As I delicately sipped on my whiskey on the rocks while furiously writing my newest novel, I had the overwhelming urge to take a break. So I flipped on the midweek rerun machine: the TV. Of course, what else was I going to do. It’s my MO. There, right in front of me, was the cold opening of a show that I had ignored for too long, “The Goldbergs.” From the first two minutes, I was hooked. It didn’t matter that it was a third season episode, I felt as if I’d know these crazy whippersnappers forever. Immediately after that episode was over, I started my marathoning journey via our friends at Hulu.

I’m now obsessed with this show. I can’t help it. Murray (Jeff Garlin), Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Erica (Hayley Orrantia), Barry (Troy Gentile), Adam (Sean snuggle monsterGiambrone), and Pops (George Segal) all feel like family at this point. Let’s face it, growing up Jewish in the metropolitan area, I can see qualities of both my actual family and friends in every single character. From the relationship of the three siblings to each other, their friends, and parents, this show hit home pretty hard. It’s more thoughtful and belly laughingly funnier than any of the other family-based sitcoms on any station right now.

I really want to say that Adam’s actual home videos are the star of this show, but that would be a complete lie. They make the overall viewing experience feel more personal, as it’s nice to think you’re watching a version of revisionist history. Obviously the videos infuse another layer of humor into every plot and character moment, but when it comes down to it Wendi McLendon-Covey’s Beverly “sMother” Goldberg is one of the best Best studentpeople/characters/things/stuff/anything on TV right now. Nobody makes me laugh harder and it’s not even the over the top moments that make her the quintessential Jewish overprotective, overbearing mother: a sMother. In the detail of her character (and in all the characters, really) is where the true nuggets of brilliance lie. The sweaters, the way she can change emotion on a dime, side looks, the way she sits down, scrapbooks, her made up words to show affection, and the specificity of her threats are so ingrained in my being even before I met this person. It’s what happens when you grow up in an environment similar to what’s being depicted. It’s offensive that Julie Bowen is continually nominated for Claire Dunphy on “ Modern Family” when McLendon-Covey’s Bev is the greater achievement.

All jokes surrounding Barry’s (aka Big Tasty’s) stupidity and heartfelt demeanor are always a crowd pleaser. (And his running arms.) Murr-man’s pants habit? Hilarious. How quickly Bev can get things done? Always a belly laugh. Covering up Sean enhanced-13828-1410134601-7Giambrone’s puberty, while highlighting Adam’s awkwardness by making fun of him (and essentially giving him less screen time)? Fantastic. Erica’s fights with her brothers and mother couldn’t be written and executed with more realism. George Segal’s Pop and his close relationship and Adam’s strikes an incredible emotional chord with me.

I’m a 90s kid who is obsessed with pop culture from any generation. I would try and reenact my favorite movies as a kid and film or audio record everything, so it may be strong armthat Adam, as a viewer’s entry point, is built directly for me. Sure I see a lot of myself and my family tied into the Goldberg household, but there’s something very universal about this family. Coming together in times of need and looking out for one another are always prevalent themes in the last act of each episode. These lessons can’t be defined by one time period or another–1980s or 2010s. Family as a foundation has always been an important part of my life and it’s nice to see it portrayed closer to the way I grew up.

Also, the soundtrack and movie/TV references are so well executed that it’s hard not to fall in love with it based on that alone. I hope there are more dark and stormy Wednesday to take a break from writing and check in with my new favorite family (on TV–nah, my new favorite family). I’m so happy I only let this show slip by me for so long. Shame on me.

Now, go eat some shrimp parm you little snuggle monsters. Also, thanks ABC for airing this show. 

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

TV State of the Union

 

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The second half of this TV season is upon us and so I figured that a hangover-ed morning was a great way to catch up on all of the TV I’ve missed lately. Today was that day. It’s been a busy couple of months in the entertainment industry. A lot of content to consume in order keep up with, well, everything. The award ceremonies, the water cooler talks, the artistic expressions of our favorite filmmakers, and, of course, the FOMO. After casually keeping up with my favorite shows amidst all of my movie going excitement, it seemed like the right time for a Bryan’s Not Lyin’ TV State of the Union.

While I have pared down what I watch on a weekly basis substantially, my TV time is still way above the average viewer. This includes not just what my DVR records, but sporting events, Netflix and Hulu and Amazon and HBO binges (aka my Apple TV playland), as well as the youtube videos of hilarious late night tv antics. There a lot going on and I need to see it all. It’s a blessing and a curse. Mostly a curse, sometimes a blessing. (Curse, let’s be honest.)

So below, I’ve written a few blurbs on what I’m currently watching and how I think their current seasons are fairing. Note: SPOILER CITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Not like an actual city, but there are a lot of spoilers below.)

Once again: Next Stop, Spoiler City! (Like I said, not an actual city…)

Arrow

It’s much better than last season. Much, much better. Now, it’s been well documented that fJIcdG2this show takes itself waaaay too seriously and while this season is no different, there’s a bit more character empathy. The reason? Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk. Not only is his baddie more engaging to watch then Matt Nobel’s Ra’s al Guhl from last year, but his ruthlessness and relentless raises the stakes of everything Team Arrow takes on. Some plots I’m down on (aka Speedie’s bloodlust), but mostly Oliver and Felicity’s current situation is incredibly watchable. They’re the characters I am most drawn to and Darhk brings out the most interesting storytelling.

The Flash

It’s convoluted, ridiculous, and out there, but damn is it so much fun. Every character (minus Caitlin and Jay) are clicking on all cylinders. In a way, The Flash season two has done an interesting flip flop. At first the emotional lives of the characters, aside from Barry, were shallow and based on the fact that The Flash’s secret was being kept to frustrating means. Essentially, Iris and a few other characters didn’t pop off the screen well and
the-flashseemed like filler or at least a forced obstacle for Barry and company. The fun bad guys, silly quips, and good TV special effects were the reason to stay. Now the show borders on (or sometimes crosses over into) the absurd, but it is grounded in such wonderful human moments. Now that all of the core characters know that Barry is the Flash, we don’t have any super cliched plots that just don’t read to the audience. That has allowed us to connect more with the plights of these people and be affected by their hardships. Iris and her mother. Barry and Patty. Harry and his daughter. I look forward to hanging out in Central City every Tuesday nights (and when they are in Star City for crossovers with Team Arrow.)

Supergirl

I’m really enjoying what this show is dishing out. The Berlanti DC TV shows are very strong across the board and Supergirl, in its first season, has only strengthened his hold on the Stronger Togethersmall screen comic book landscape. This show is earnest, heartfelt, and melodramatic in a way that the other shows can’t offer. Some characters are more likable than others, for instance, I enjoy an episode with less James Olsen and more Cat Grant. The addition of The Martian Manhunter through a Hank Henshaw fake out is brilliant and adds a whole new DC layer to the show that it needed. Especially to act as a mentor and foil to Melissa Benosit’s wonderful take on Supergirl. (The gchats with Clark Kent weren’t exactly cutting it.) It’s a really fun way to end my Monday nights. Jeremy Jordan is also pretty dreamy.

Nashville

Yes, I still watch it. Why? I JUST DON’T KNOW. The music isn’t as good, the plots keep getting more and more insane, but I can’t not watch it!

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

It’s truly impressive how in it’s 11th season, this show is funnier, more gruesome, and smarter than it has been in what would be considered it’s best years. It’s rare for a halfstatic1.squarespace hour comedy to come back from some lesser quality seasons, but the past three seasons have done that like 30 Rock in it’s last season. Granteed, there have only been a handful of episodes so far into the season, but Mac, Dee, Frank, Dennis, and Charlie are delivering left and right. RUM HAM!

New Girl

It still consistently cracks me up. Now that the cast has been streamlined again (and the title card), it’s back to what I enjoyed before Nick and Jess got together. Semi-plotless, but new-girlso much fun and the one-liners kill. Everybody’s friendship chemistry is profoundly real and palpable. The show refound that their characters and those relationships are why the show works in the first place, so they’ve relied on that in a major way.  Cece and Schmidt together works better than any other pairing of ‘lovers’, so to have that solidified for the moment adds a lot of comic value. I love these people and the crazier Winston is, the more I love everything and everybody.

Billions

I’ve watched the first two episodes and can’t get enough of Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Maggie Siff, and even Malin Akerman. The story itself isn’t the most engaging I’ve ever Billionsseen. If anything it’s retread of the usual bad boy, super smart hedge fund CEO and the questionably moral government employee out to get him. But simply put: the scene work, writing, and acting is top notch. As of now, I like it a lot, I just hope that it can stay the course and not become the same old same old banker vs government story.

The Big Bang Theory

It delivers exactly what it promises: nerd laughs. This season has had some extremely solid The Raiders Minimizationepisodes, all character based, which is both nice and unexpected for half hour sitcom. The types of character pieces they’re building around Sheldon/Amy and Leonard/Penny tell a much more interesting story of friendship and growth, so our time investment in these lives is rewarded. This season is enjoyable on multiple planes (or Sheldon’s favorite thing: trains).

 

 I’ll hopefully have more TV related reviews up in the next few days, so stay tuned!

Keep On Watchin’!

-Bryan

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

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Oh, how nice to have Mr Holmes and Mr Watson back! The hour and a half special brings back our two favorite detectives, but in 1895 London, as opposed to the usual contemporary setting. After a bride kills herself on her own wedding anniversary, her ghost goes on a killing spree around London. Holmes and Watson are on the case, while the former works out a parallel case in his head. Watson and Mary do their usual marriage troubles dance along the way as well.

Except for the the time period, it’s the same basic show we all know and love. The opening credits, our characters’ backstories, and more are all familiar, yet with its original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spin. (I truly enjoyed the Mycroft surprise.) It’s a fun change of pace for the show in a rare appearance.

All of the actors are back in their roles or at least their Victorian England counterparts, male or female or swapped. The episode keeps the same quirks as the previous seasons: the on screen text, flashback set pieces, and unique transitions. Of course, it’s all just the cherry on the Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch chemistry sundae. I much prefer their Sherlock and John over Smaug and Bilbo. sherlock-abominable-bride-trailer-2They’re still as sharp as ever, clearly having a great time having slipped back into these comfortable characters. Their banter, camaraderie, and working relationship is all on point, as is the writing for most of the episode. It flows nicely with the main mystery over shadowing any of the smaller plots for most of the running time. Beautifully shot, the episode’s style stays true to the previous iterations in this BBC series.

Thematically, the episode deals with ghosts and how the past affects our present. Everything that has happened throughout the run of the show still exists in this timeline, so our favorite characters are still dealing with their same demons. Moriarty, drug abuse, and Irene Adler all come back into play, some more than others. And then the twist that could have been called from a mile away happens, but it’s still pretty rewarding.

*SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT. SKIP TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH TO AVOID THEM.*

Again, spoilers. Okay. You good? Great. So, the 19th century sequences are actually Holmes in his mind palace while on the plane at the end of the series 3 finale. He’s attempting to solve how Moriarty can be back, but by understanding the centuries old mystery of the bride. (Of which the answer is a little lame.) Once we’re back in Victorian England, Holmes gets a telegram from Mary conveniently leading him and Watson to the church of pissed off wives. Holmes easily solves the case, which in another episode would seem pretty dull, but here, since it’s in his mind palace and we’re now engaged in the Moriarty storyline, it’s forgivable.

The final ten minutes are extremely entertaining, if not a little convoluted. The idea that Moriarty is so in Holmes’ head that he infects every dark corner of his mind palace is interesting. The writers explore it nicely, if not unevenly. It’s always an maxresdefaultadded bonus when Andrew Scott gets to reprise the role of the crazed professor, Moriarty. However, what I found the most fulfilling is how Sherlock allows Watson to help him. Holmes may be the same arrogant, narcissistic sleuth, but his acceptance of Watson’s help in this dire situation is a rewarding character development. Of course Watson is always there to help, but Holmes calling upon him in his own mind’s eye was pretty sweet. Additionally, the episode ended on a fun note, blurring the lines between which time period is reality and which is the mind palace. Essentially it doesn’t matter because he’s a man of many times, but it answered my biggest pet peeve of the entire episode: How does Sherlock of the 19th century know what a jet is and why didn’t Watson question the word/ concept earlier?

*END OF SPOILERS*

It’s not my favorite of the Sherlock episodes, but I had a great time delving back into this world regardless. The first two acts are a little stronger than the third and Holmes doesn’t really do any detective work, per se. Everything is handed to him, 404246-sherlock-the-abominable-bride-fb-cropwhich may or may not be the point, but things are a little too easy and clear cut. It’s heavily reliant on his drug use than any other season and the twist almost cheapens the whole experiences, even though it ties a lot together. All of the smaller plot lines are lost along the way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as they didn’t have a strong introduction. However, these characters, the chemistry between actors, and witty writing are always welcome, even if they come in fits and stops. I will wait for however long it takes Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss to get the gang back together, as there are still mysteries afoot.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Movie Day 2015-16

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Once again, movie day has come and gone. The tradition began in 2007 as a way to see a few movies I was dying to see the day before I left to study abroad. Now, eight years later, it has evolved into a full day of movie-going in an attempt to make a dent in the overwhelmingly saturated holiday/awards season.

Aside from my stamina, I’d like to thank the following people. Feel free to click through and follow them on Instagram! Marco Chieffalo, Josh Rothberg, Leigh Cesiro, Caitlin Northcote, Hana Katen, Jay Schmidt, Kimberly Cooper, Erica Plofsky, Jillian Shaw, Lucy Vallejo-Anderson, and Erica Anderman.

So, with tickets in hand, I headed to my favorite multiplex in the city: AMC Lincoln Square 13.

9am Movie #1: The Revenant

Regardless of the early time, it was a pretty packed theatre. Finding our seats on the right side of the auditorium, I was surprised to see how diverse in age the audience was at this showtime. It’s usually a much older crowd. This long, mostly intense film seemed like the best way to thrust my way into the day.

The Revenant, directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman), is the story of a direly injured tracker, Huge Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), attempting to make imageshis way back to the men who left him to die in the bleak wilderness of 1823 Montana and South Dakota. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, the film was beautiful from start to finish, as the wilderness served as one of the main characters. The acting is superb, led by Dicaprio, who is sure to be nominated and maybe get his first oscar win. Personally, I’m never blown away by him, but here he is very good.

Clocking in at just over two and a half hours, the film is brutal, punishing, and 15 minutes too long. That being said, it’s pretty special and a perfect start to movie day.

1:10pm Movie #2: The Big Short

Since The Revenant had taken up most of the morning, I had plenty of time scheduled for lunch and a leg stretch. If I’ve learned anything from past movie days, it’s that absorption time, especially after the more intense features, is a necessity. So after a walk and a chicken shwarma, I was right back in another theatre for The Big Short. Then, the movie day scare happened.

Apparently, there was a false alarm in the AMC’s fire system that shut down all of the in-progress movies. From what I heard, part of the theatre was evacuated and new movie goers were stuck outside, attempting to get in. I images-4started to panic because the jump from this movie to the next movie was my tightest of the day and a failure on movie day sets up the whole year for failure. The whole year, I tell you! However, after it all played out, the movie was completely full and started only five minutes late. Pretty lucky stuff.

As the previews started, a massive amount of people were still trying to find seats after the delay. The house lights went out as the screen began to glow with the trailers’ green images, which caused a bit of chaos in the crowd. People were still looking to see what seats were available with no lights. This was not a good move by AMC. Even if the lights were on an auto dim, that should have been changed for this situation. A very frustrating moment for many audience members.

Adam McKay (Anchorman) is the perfect director to handle this heavy, somewhat depressing, material. The Big Short follows three groups of hedge fund managers who foresaw the 2007 financial crisis and bet against the housing market to make a considerable profit. Starring Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, and an incredible Steve Carell, the movie is a home run. It attempts to teach the audience about the specifics of why the economy crashed, while profiling the men who benefited from it all. In what could have been a boring, sad, and mundane prestige picture, The Big Short in McKay’s hands is filled with humor, heart, and a morality. The substance of this film is inherently depressing, but the movie is a colorful portrait of our times that doesn’t dumb down the cynical feelings.

4:00pm Movie #3: Sisters

Despite the late start for my most attended movie of the day, The Big Short, I made it to Sisters with time to spare. Once again, it was another packed images-1house. Friends had saved a seat for me, so that made everything a little bit easier and less stressful. Sisters was chosen as the comedy to break up the day, so I wasn’t expecting much from it.

When sisters Kate (Tiny Fey) and Maura (Amy Poehler), find out that their parents are selling their childhood home, they throw one last party to top all parties. I love Fey and Poehler, as the majority of the world does now, but the movie starts off pretty laughless, only to be saved by a decently funny 2nd and 3rd act. Overall, the movie wouldn’t work without the two stars and their chemistry, but having gone in with low expectations, I enjoyed it for what it. It’s not great, but I laughed enough. I know that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but Sisters is the definition of ‘meh’.

7:50pm Movie #4: Anomalisa

After Sisters, I grabbed a little dinner and took a brisk walk to the new theatre, Lincoln Plaza Cinema 6, for the final two of the day. This theatre, featuring some of the best indie pictures out, is a cozy relic of yesteryear. The screens are small, the carpets are old, but the movies are so good. It was packed.

As a big fan of all of Charlie Kaufman’s work, I was very excited to be able to include Anomalisa in this year’s movie day. Told through stop motion images-2animation, Anomalisa (directed by Kaufman and Duke Johnson) is about a customer service guru, Michael Stone (David Thewlis), in the midst of a midlife crisis. Away for a speaking engagement in Cincinnati, Michael attempts to fill the holes in his life on his night at the hotel. I didn’t know what to expect from this one, but I was not ready for what I got.

It’s an extremely intimate hour and a half deconstruction of the loneliness and sadness of a man in a seemingly lost place in his life. The fact that he’s a stop motion character makes no difference in conveying the humanity of the film. It goes places that most live action pictures can’t, as it wouldn’t have as much impact. Jennifer Jason Leigh voices a timid and insecure Lisa, who is wooed by Michael in his whirlwind of a night. Perhaps the most important performance in the film is Tom Noonan who voices everybody else. Man or woman, he brings a monotonous, yet specific, characterization to the world around Michael.

I had a hard time empathizing (or sympathizing) with Michael, as his type of sadness and how he handles it is beyond my true understanding, but both he and Lisa’s short journey is fascinating and deep. There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to this film, but I’m not going to spoil it here. I’m still absorbing it all and will be for a while.

10:25pm Movie #5: 45 Years

Well, we made it to the last movie and fittingly the theatre was empty. It was me, Leigh, and maybe eight other strangers. After a long day of retina burning fun, I’m glad the it ended with 45 Years because it was quite the slow burn of a film.

While planning for their 45th wedding anniversary, Geoff and Kate receive a letter that changes the dynamic of their relationship. Told over the course images-3of a handful of days, we watch uncertainty and insecurity creep into their everyday lives. Is 45 years enough time to fully know a person? This film is held up by its two leads’ performances and while Tom Courtnay as Geoff Mercer is wonderful, Charlotte Rampling as Kate is one of the best performances of the year. The journey of her character from beginning to end is so life shattering, yet all of it is internally conveyed. From her use of subtext to the dying glow in her eyes, it’s a performances that isn’t showy, but overwhelmingly captivating. The last ten minutes, without any confrontation, is incredibly fiery and tension filled. This slow and rewarding film is dynamite.

Well, we did it again! Movie day was a complete and total success. Timing, quality, and attendance all lined up to create one of the better days in its eight year history. Here’s my rough list of best to worst films of the day:

  1. The Big Short
  2. 45 Years
  3. Anomalisa
  4. The Revenant
  5. Sisters

There are always aspects I question, for instance: Should I end the day with such depressing material? Should I have saved certain movies for this day to round out the diversity? Is 5 or 6 films too many and would 4 at better showtimes be a more solid day? These are things I’ll consider for next year, but for now, I’ll happily take this one as a win. And even after 5 movies in a row, I was ready for another. Happy Movie Day to all!

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Review: The Jinx – The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

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Is Robert Durst a sociopath who has been slipping through the cracks of justice with his lies and money or is he truly the most unlucky person in the world–always in the wrong place at the wrong time? A Jinx? The HBO Docu-series, ‘The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst’, ended this past Sunday night and I’m sure you’ve read plenty of headlines since. I won’t be commenting on what has happened post show or how the filmmakers’ timelines must have played out. I’ll be writing about the cinematic excellence of this six part series. Move over ‘Serial’, here comes ‘The Jinx’.

The incredible tension, excitement, and viewer obsession is derived from the bizarre story.
thejinx_2_1200_article_story_largeBorn into an incredibly wealthy, New York City real estate family–as tumultuous as any of the tv show clans we love to hate–Robert Durst’s concept of consequence is completely skewed. Starting with his most recent crime, the documentary then jumps to the
beginning to Durst’s timeline. In 1982, his wife, Katie McCormack, went missing under mysterious circumstances. Her body was never found. The obviousness of this man’s crimes are overshadowed by his ability to never be convicted for them–a microcosm for our justice system as a whole. Is he actually guilty? Most likely yes. Is he guilty? Not with the evidence on file. Lawyers were paid, cops made mistakes, and murdering sociopaths go free. This is ‘Dateline’ on crack.

The-Jinx-New-York-Premire-TRTGMxRtLhelAs a person who knew very little of the history of this lifelong liar, I was sucked in immediately. Producer and director, Andrew Jarecki (‘Capturing the Friedmans’), has crafted an intense, (semi) non-biased recounting of the history of Durst and the crimes that have become his legacy. Jarecki was contacted by Robert Durst and asked to be interviewed on the subject of his life after seeing Jarecki’s film ‘All Good things’, which is based on Durst’s first wife’s disappearance. It’s an insane idea, but maybe it came from an insane person looking for attention? Or was he trying to actually explain his side of the story? Who knows what his motivation was to finally speak out publicly. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that we get to watch in a beautifully put together piece.

Along with the show’s Durst interview centerpiece, Jarecki allows for the facts, people, and history to speak for themselves. It’s just that all of the facts, people, and history point to Durst. The eerie, faceless re-enactment B-Roll and ominous editing all supplement the true insanity of the life of Durst. The music and opening credits sequence supports this too. The docudrama is sleekly put together, regardless of the third and fourth episodes’ penchant for dragging. (These don’t heavily feature mystery or interviews with Durst.)

Aside from the pulse pounding, breath stealing, adrenaline rush of a last 10 minutes of the final hour, what I really took away from this series is the pain and perseverance of the people affected by the terrible crimes of Durst. The lives of the friends, family, and law enforcement that were directly involved in all of Dursts’ (unproven) wrong doings have been turned upside down without answers. If you look at their body language, peer into their eyes, and listen to the anger and sadness in their voices, you can feel their all-consuming frustration with the justice system and Dursts’ inability to get caught. As viewers, we want answers so badly. These people have desperately needed them for years.

Okay, fine, I’ll talk about the last 10 minutes with spoilers. SPOILER ALERT. The last episode pandered and dealt with the ethics of the filmmaker, who had to confront Durst with the new letter evidence. I mean, that hand writing? That misspelled word? The Mead-The-Jinx-Durst-1200burping? The blinking? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that last two minutes of this program. “What the hell did I do?” He whispers to himself in the bathroom, forgetting his hot microphone. “Killed them all, of course.” Woah. This possible bathroom confession is one of the most insane, amazing moments on television. Robert Durst was willing gave these men an interview. He has no ability for apathy or sympathy and therefore lying comes easy to him. (Apparently, he even wore contacts that enlarge his pupils to make him come off as more innocent.)  At this point, does he even believe that he did it? Obviously, yes based on his bathroom words. He just can’t keep it together long enough to not leave a mark. He may very well have been talking to the voices inside his head. Then again, a little part of him may have wanted to be secretly caught. Well, he perhaps got what he wanted.

Please, do yourself a favor and watch this if you haven’t.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Netflix Rundown: House of Cards and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Have you finished them yet? It’s the question we’re all asking lately–thanks to Netflix’s latest releases. Between ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ we had two weekends of pure binge watching. Have you finished them yet? I watched each of them in a day, as I have a tremendous fear of being spoiled (FOBS), but I waited to post this blog until I gave you all a chance to finished the–so here we go. (Skip below to just read ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’)

House Of Cards: Season 3

As many of you know, I am not a huge fan of this show. Season 1 was enjoyable–the introduction of scene chewing Frank and Claire Underwood was a fun moment in the TV landscape. I went on to finish season two for one reason–to get it over with. Sad, house-of-cards-season-3-posterbut true. It’s extremely hard to relate to the characters and buy into what they’re attempting to achieve, as there is little to no empathy. At least season 1 had Peter Russo (Corey Stoll), playing the part of  the audience’s emotional pathway into this world. This is a show of people doing mean things for their own career advancement and if Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright weren’t as charming as they are, this show wouldn’t work at all. Have you ever noticed how easily they cut through the warm butter that is this version of Washington DC? There is never any viable obstacle for the two devious Underwoods.

In Season 2 it’s never even an option that Frank won’t become President because that’s just what’s going to happen. It’s a TV show that doesn’t make the main character’s journey tough. Raymond Tusk, President Walker, and Xander Feng were never going to stop Frank because the show never really backed him into a legitimate corner. The show writes Frank as the smartest person in the world with no conscious and everybody else as an uncharismatic whimp. The best episode from the first two seasons is Season 1’s “Chapter 8,” when Frank reunites with his school chums for the naming of his alma mater’s library. It’s a character piece that humanizes the two leads and explores their nature and personal relationship with others and each other.

Season 3 is definitely my favorite of the trio, most likely due to the fact that it explored Claire and Frank’s relationship and dynamic in a detailed manner. The ustv-house-of-cards-season-3season still includes most of what I don’t like of the show, but Viktor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen) and Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) are much better matches for Frank. The writers cut down on Frank’s asides to the audience, which I thought helped the overall flow of the season. Too often in seasons 1 and 2 the asides diffused too much of the tension and overtly spelled out situations, talking down to us as a viewer. It trusted us to figure out his motives, then broke it by telling us directly. Season 3 makes those moments scarce, which makes Frank more vulnerable, especially as he begins to lose his wife in the process. Frank may have been excellent at stealing the presidency for himself, but he’s not that good at being President. He’s trying to build something on the ground that he destroyed in the first two seasons.

The season really gets going in its second half with Frank’s run in Iowa with Claire. All of the build up from the first few episodes (Russia, the Middle East, etc) comes crashing down on their relationship and marriage. While we always witnessed their teamwork throughout the series with only moments of weakness, these closing episodes of season 3 are intense as these two forces begin to challenge each other. The streamlined storyline (Iowa/campaigning and their marriage) aided in creating a more engaging show. The writers focused on the show’s best elements–its two leads. I did enjoy Doug’s struggle and the other character’s conscious self-discoveries, but Claire and Frank’s tension stole the show in the end. Netflix’s prestige show doesn’t rank in my top 20 TV programs on right now. While I know I’m in the minority on my ‘House of Cards’ opinions, this season was a step in the right direction for me.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

“They alive, dammit. It’s a miracle!” ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, from our favorite ’30 Rock’ creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, was a pleasant surprise. It may be ’30 Rock’ lite, but that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s a positive, fun, colorful sitcom with an incredibly energetic cast led by Ellie Kemper (Kimmy), Tituss Burgess (Titus), Jane Krakowski (Jacqueline), and Carol Kane (Lillian). It’s incredible funny and moves at a breakneck pace and is a wonderful showcase for so many talented women.

Rescued from an underground doomsday cult, after years of being held captive, 29 year old Kimmy Schmidt moves to New York City to figure out who she is and start a life for herself. With her new best friend, landlady, and employer by her side, she’s unbreakable. “They alive, dammit. It’s a miracle!”

Ellie Kemper keeps this show afloat as Kimmy with her infusion of love and naivety into every scene and joke. This role could easily get annoying or “too unbreakable-kimmy-schmidtdumb,” but she always keeps it consistent and believable in this off-kilter world the writers have created. She is matched by Tituss’ Titus Andromedon and his pure optimistic cynicism. Let’s just say in addition to the opening credits, I can’t get ‘Pinot Noir’ out of my head. And his backwards Werewolf transformation was something special. Krakowski (playing a version of Jenna) and Kane (a perfectly kooky NYC landlord) round out this wonderful cast.

As was the case with ’30 Rock’, the guest stars always nail the material they’re wolf6tvf-1-webgiven. From Tina Fey herself to Jon Hamm as the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne to Tim Blake Nelson to the small, but great cameo by Amy Sedaris. I laughed more consistency during this show than most comedies, by this irreverent comedy is right up my alley. The ‘Daddy’s Boy’ musical joke is worth all 13 episodes.

I’m really happy that NBC passed on this show, so that we’ll actually see more episodes and seasons on Netflix. What an easy show to binge watch an I can’t wait for season two. And boy is that these song catchy as hell. Hashbrown, no filter.

So, Netflix’s February was a strong month. Hopefully the upcoming ‘Bloodline’ and ‘Marvel’s Daredevil’ will be equally as engaging. Let me know what you thought of ‘Kimmy’ and ‘Cards’ below–that is, if you’ve finished them, of course.

Keep On Watchin’!

-Bryan

The 2015 Oscars Telecast

640_oscar_winners_split2What a weird night. I’ll keep this brief, as you’ve probably read a plethora of commentary about Sunday night’s show (or on twitter as it was happening). ALso, CLICK HERE to see a full list of winners.

Who would have though that a night full of very few upsets with winners we’ve seen taking home the hardware for what feels like years giving new energy into their speech? Who would have thought the Neil Patrick Harris and his writing team would more or less fail us at home? Who would have thought that Lady Gaga singing ‘The Sound of Music’ and hugging Julie Andrews would have been a highlight? Not me said the Oscar lover.

There were plenty of wonderful moments during the telecast, but they sure didn’t come from the places I would have expected. Usually the telecast make the awards seem like they get in the way of a fully entertaining evening. This 518664702_c_570_411year, it was the opposite. The winners and their speeches were electrifying, so the production felt like it was sucking the energy out of the room. Neil Patrick Harris’s opening number was fine, albeit a little dull until Anna Kendrick and Jack Black showed up, but as the night progressed his jokes got worse and the “predictions box” joke died over the course of the three hour running time. I will say that NPH tried to sell the bad jokes for as long as possible, but, as I mentioned, it was a looooooooooooong show. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great one-liners and zingers here and there, but it wasn’t enough to compete with the excellent musical numbers and speeches.

Now the good stuff: Let’s talk speeches for a moment. Graham Moore’s now famous, “Stay Weird Speech,” Patricia Arquette’s equal pay shout (that riled up giphyJ-Lo and Streep), the Polish director speaking through the play off music, JK Simmons’s “call your parents” advice, Eddie Redmayne’s child-like giddiness, Julianne Moore’s elegance, and all of Iñárritu energy made these Oscars one of the better collection of unscripted moments. I ate it all up. Now, let’s talk performances for a second. I went Gaga for Gaga, got goosebumps for giphy-1Glory, and thought ‘Everything was Awesome’ was awesome. The musical numbers really did shine, infusing energy into that theatre and our living rooms. I mean, that ‘Glory’ staging made Chris Pine and David Oyelowo cry for good reason. The night may be dragged in places, but the musical numbers weren’t to blame.

 

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Some other thoughts:

  • I went 19 for 24. While not my best year, I’ll take it. I should just stick to my gut. PGA winners are just going to win. Straight up. As soon as Birdman won Best Original Screenplay, the night was pretty much locked in.
  • The graphics all night were absolutely gorgeous—especially the ‘In Memoriam’ segment. While I would have loved to see some clips, it was a beautiful tribute to those we lost this year.
  • Where the F*CK was Joan Rivers in the ‘In Memoriam’? She basically invented the ‘Red Carpet’ and I’m pretty sure was in some movies here and there. That was an inexcusable mistake by the producers.
  • Terrance Howard loves movies so much. So much.
  • The middle of the show is always going to feel like it’s dragging because as entertaining as the speeches can be, they’re still for awards that the majority viewers at home don’t want to see. It’s a shame, but it’s true.
  • Lady Gaga was fantastic. It’s a shame that she went on at 11:15pm with 7 more Oscars to hand out. Somebody needs to come in and figure out time management. Please.
  • American Sniper won for sound. Sounds about right.
  • Neil Patrick Harris is an entertainer, not a true comedian and the show giphy-2was lacking in humor overall. Why they didn’t supplement this with more comedic presenters is baffling to me, but I will say that Idina Menzel and John Travolta’s two minutes on stage was epically funny.
  • At least we can depend on Sean Penn to be, well, Sean Penn.
  • That set. That set was the MVP. It was miraculous.

I haven’t talked about who won which awards because it really doesn’t matter. I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is a primetime television event that attempts to take subjective art and filter it through an objective lens for the sake of pomp and circumstance. My favorite movies aren’t going to win it all and I just can’t be disappointed anymore. (I would have loved to see ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ upset for Best Original Screenplay, but oh well.) What I found quite invigorating Sunday night was that each one of the eight nominees for Best Picture won at least one statue. I would have liked them to be allocated differently, but everybody was recognized and that was fitting.

Let me know what you thought below! Did you like NPH? Would you like to see a true comedian get the gig back? Did Steve Carrell get the biggest laugh of the night? What was your favorite speech?

Well, until next year!

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

My 2015 Oscar Picks

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WHO ELSE IS EXCITED!?!?!?!?!?!?! The time is here for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards! I will, of course, have my thoughts on the ceremony and its winners (and losers) later tonight or early Monday morning. For now, below are my Oscar picks for who is going to WIN the Oscar for each category. I’m not listing who I WANT to win. These are two very different guesses. For instance, I would love to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes win for Special Effects, but I’m going with Interstellar due to the Academy and their previous voting habits. Hopefully I can improve on my 22/24 last year. We’ll see, won’t we!?

Best Picture

JPBOYHOOD1-articleLarge-v2AMERICAN SNIPER

BIRDMAN

*BOYHOOD

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

THE IMITATION GAME

SELMA

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

WHIPLASH

Thought: I honestly think that your guess is as good as mine in this category when it comes to the toss up that is Birdman vs Boyhood. Birdman has won most of the Guild Awards, but Boyhood has won the BAFTA’s and other statues here and there. Take all of the facts and figures that you’d like to look at and attempt to make whatever sense you can of it, then take your pick. I’m going with Boyhood (which could be a mistake) because I think the Academy is going to spread the love tonight. As for ‘stats’, I’m banking on the one that says the SAG winners don’t win best picture and BAFTA winners do.

Best Director

birdman*Alejandro Iñárritu – BIRDMAN

Richard Linklater – BOYHOOD

Bennett Miller – FOXCATCHER

Wes Anderson – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Morten Tyldum – THE IMITATION GAME

Thoughts: Again, it’s toss up, but here’s my logic on this one. Iñárritu won the DGA, which is usually a great indicator of who will win this statue. I don’t see Boyhood winning both this and Best Picture, as it lost the SAG and PGA, The academy may try to spread the love too and the technical direction of Birdman will win out (ie: Gravity and Life of Pi)  If they don’t, it’ll be a Birdman sweep, SO choosing Iñárritu is statistically the best choice here. Unless Linklater wins…

Best Actor

tumblr_naxb7qXlr71rzoznmo1_500Steve Carell – FOXCATCHER

Bradley Cooper – AMERICAN SNIPER

Benedict Cumberbatch – THE IMITATION GAME

Michael Keaton – BIRDMAN

*Eddie Redmayne – THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

Thoughts: This is an extremely tight race. Could Cooper, who wasn’t up against Keaton and Redmayne at the SAGs or BAFTAs, be the spoiler? Probably not, as he’ll take votes from the other two, but not enough to win. While Keaton has the nostalgia and veteran factor working for him, the fact is that Redmayne has won the SAG, BAFTA, and Golden Globe. In the history of the SAGS (the youngest of the three awards), when all three wins line-up, the Oscar is guaranteed. I don’t see that changing this year.

Best Actress

665822002Marion Cotillard – TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

Felicity Jones – THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

*Julianne Moore – STILL ALICE

Rosamund Pike – GONE GIRL

Reese Witherspoon – WILD

Thoughts: She, literally, hasn’t lost a major award this season and it won’t stop here. The voters believe she is due (and she is), so we’ll see Moore up on stage for, what I hope to be, a heartfelt acceptance speech.

Best Supporting Actor

insta014Robert Duvall – THE JUDGE

Ethan Hawke – BOYHOOD

Edward Norton – BIRDMAN

Mark Ruffalo – FOXCATCHER

*J.K. Simmons – WHIPLASH

Thoughts: He, literally, hasn’t lost a major award this season and it won’t stop here. His 20+ years of popping up in everything (TV, Movies, Commercials) has led to this well deserved award. Like Moore, is consistency is a thing of beauty.

Best Supporting Actress

tumblr_nf1xj3QEVs1s89mq8o1_400*Patricia Arquette – BOYHOOD

Laura Dern – WILD

Keira Knightley – THE IMITATION GAME

Emma Stone – BIRDMAN

Meryl Streep – INTO THE WOODS

She, literally, hasn’t lost a major award this season and it won’t stop here. We’re in for a very predictable night for a little stretch, but all of these winners, especially this category, are earned to the fullest. The competition isn’t that great, but the predicted winner would have won in stronger years anyway.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

tumblr_nk3a4z9ccl1u9x3n5o2_500AMERICAN SNIPER – Written by Jason Hall

THE IMITATION GAME – Written by Graham Moore

INHERENT VICE – Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING – Screenplay by Anthony McCarten

WHIPLASH – Written by Damien Chazelle

Thoughts: This is tricky category, as ‘Whiplash’ wasn’t included here in earlier award ceremonies. (The Academy is saying that it is based on a short film used to raise funds to make the full length film nominated.) This throws a wrench into the plans of films like ‘The Theory of Everything’ and ‘The Imitation Game’, but I still see Graham Moore taking the prize home. He won the WGA and he’ll win here.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

giphy-1BIRDMAN – Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo

BOYHOOD – Written By Richard Linklater

FOXCATCHER – Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

*THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness

NIGHTCRAWLER – Written by Dan Gilroy

Thoughts: This a tough race, as the Boyhood and Birdman are duking it out for Best Picture. I think that academy will honor Anderson and his most successful movie to date. They’re going to spread the love around. He’s got the momentum with the DGA and BAFTA and it’s a way for the academy to award this film for it’s insightful quirkiness.

Production Design

*THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)

THE IMITATION GAME – Maria Djurkovic (Production Design); Tatiana Macdonald (Set Decoration)

INTERSTELLAR – Nathan Crowley (Production Design); Gary Fettis (Set Decoration)

INTO THE WOODS – Dennis Gassner (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)

TURNER – Suzie Davies (Production Design); Charlotte Watts (Set Decoration)

Cinematography

*Emmanuel Lubezki – BIRDMAN

Robert Yeoman – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski – IDA

Dick Pope – MR. TURNER

Roger Deakins – UNBROKEN

Foreign Language Film

*IDA – Poland; Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski

LEVIATHAN – Russia; Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev

TANGERINES – Estonia; Directed by Zaza Urushadze

TIMBUKTU – Mauritania; Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako

WILD TALES – Argentina; Directed by Damián Szifron

Animated Feature Film

tumblr_njy0tvzULw1rdqbfro5_500*BIG HERO 6

THE BOXTROLLS

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

SONG OF THE SEA

THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA

Visual Effects

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould

*INTERSTELLAR – Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST – Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Costume Design

*Milena Canonero – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Mark Bridges – INHERENT VICE

Colleen Atwood – INTO THE WOODS

Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive – MALEFICENT

Jacqueline Durran – MR. TURNER

Music (Original Score)

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Alexandre Desplat

THE IMITATION GAME – Alexandre Desplat

INTERSTELLAR – Hans Zimmer

TURNER – Gary Yershon

*THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Music (Original Song)

“Everything is Awesome” from THE LEGO MOVIE – Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson

*”Glory” from SELMA – Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

“Grateful” from BEYOND THE LIGHTS – Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from GLEN CAMPBELL…I’LL BE ME – Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond

“Lost Stars” from BEGIN AGAIN – Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

Documentary Feature

*CITIZEN FOUR – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky

FINDING VIVIAN MAIER – John Maloof and Charlie Siskel

LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM – Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester

THE SALT OF THE EARTH – Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier

VIRUNGA – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Film Editing

AMERICAN SNIPER – Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach

*BOYHOOD – Sandra Adair

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Barney Pillling

THE IMITATION GAME – William Goldenberg

WHIPLASH – Tom Cross

Makeup and Hairstyling

FOXCATCHER – Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Sound Editing

*AMERICAN SNIPER – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

BIRDMAN – Martin Hernández and Aaron Glascock

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES – Brent Burge and Jason Canovas

INTERSTELLAR – Richard King

UNBROKEN – Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

Sound Mixing

AMERICAN SNIPER – John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin

BIRDMAN – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga

INTERSTELLAR – Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten

UNBROKEN – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee

*WHIPLASH – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Documentary Short Subject

*CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1 – Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry

JOANNA – Aneta Kopacz

OUR CURSE – Tomasz Śliwiński and Maciej Ślesicki

THE REAPER (LA PARKA) – Gabriel Serra Arguello

WHITE EARTH – J. Christian Jensen

Short Film (Animated)

THE BIGGER PICTURE – Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees

THE DAM KEEPER – Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

*FEAST – Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed

ME AND MY MOULTON – Torill Kove

A SINGLE LIFE – Joris Oprins

Short Film (Live Action)

AYA – Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis

*BOOGALOO AND GRAHAM – Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney

BUTTER LAMP (LA LAMPE AU BEURRE DE YAK) – Hu Wei and Julien Féret

PARVANEH – Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger

THE PHONE CALL – Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

Listen, this year is incredible tough to guess Best Picture and Best Director. While I will be rooting for my picks to win, I’d LOVE to see some upsets. The night oscarcontention2013featuresis more fun with upsets! (Except for Best Picture. If America Sniper wins, I won’t ever watch the Oscars again. On the flip side, the more big awards The Grand Budapest Hotel can will, the better.) Hopefully, we’ll get to see Oscars go to as many movies as possible because this year there were a lot of great films that deserve all kinds of recognition.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan