Category Archives: Awards Season

My 2015-16 Oscar Predictions

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It’s that time again. This Sunday are the OSCARS!!!!!  That trivial, self serving, over-bloated telecast that I’m obsessed with and can’t get enough of every year.  Regardless of the whirlwind of controversy, I still need to make my picks! A few years ago I had my best ballot which was two wrong. Will this be the year I get them all right?

Remember, I am picking who will win, as opposed to who I want to win. Below, you’ll see the word ‘WINNER’ next to the film I believe will take home the award.

And don’t forget to follow along as I (and the rest of America) live tweet the Oscars. @nuttyplofessor

So, without further ado, my picks:

Best Picture

The Big Short – WINNERthe-big-short-movie

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Thoughts: The PGA hasn’t been wrong since 2006 and The Big Short won this year, so I’m betting on the house.

Possible Upset: Spotlight

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston, Trumboleonardo-dicaprio-revenant-trailer-buried-alive-092915

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant – WINNER

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Thoughts: He won’t lose. He’s won all the awards and it won’t stop here.

Possible Upset: Anybody else because it would just be Leo’s luck.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Carol room_1

Brie Larson, Room -WINNER

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Thoughts: She won’t lose. She’s won all the awards and it won’t stop here.

Possible Upset: I don’t even think there’s a chance of anybody else winning.

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale, The Big Short creed-critic-jumbo

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed – WINNER

Thoughts: He’s the perfect winner. Veteran actor getting his due for a part he first played in the 70s? An Oscar moment to live on forever.

Possible Upset: Mark Rylance.

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight alicia.vikander

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – WINNER

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Thoughts: Alicia Vikander won the SAG and overall they match the Oscars about 80%.

Possible Upset: Kate Winslet.

Best Directing

Adam McKay, The Big Short TheRevenantInterview

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant – WINNER

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Thoughts: Iñárritu won the DGA, so once again, I’m going with statistics.

Possible Upset: George Miller.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short – WINNER maxresdefault

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

Thoughts: I think it’s going to win best picture, so I’m taking the chance it wins this too.

Upset: The Martian

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies Spotlight-Image-1

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight – WINNER

Straight Outta Compton

Thoughts: Despite the fact that Inside Out will win it’s award, Spotlight is the only legit best picture nominee here that has a shot.

Upset: Inside OutMV5BMTUyMTE0ODcxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODE4NDQzNTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Best Film Editing

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Foreign Language Film

Colombia, Embrace of the Serpent30842_43_Son_of_Saul01_Sony

France, Mustang

Hungary, Son of Saul – WINNER

Jordan, Theeb

Denmark, A War

Best Original Score

Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spieshateful-iimage-7-30.0

Carter Burwell, Carol

Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight – WINNER

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario

John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design

Bridge of Spiesmaxresdefault

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

Best Visual Effects

Ex MachinaMad-Max-Chase

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Animated Feature Film

Anomalisa 107279-full

Boy and the World

Inside Out – WINNER

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

Best Cinematography

Caroltom-hardy-the-revenant

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant – WINNER

Sicario

Best Costume Design

Carol – WINNERcarol-image-rooney-mara-cate-blanchett

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Best Documentary – Feature

Amy – WINNER amy_winehouse_poster

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Documentary – Short Subject305167-a-girl-in-the-river-the-price-of-forgiveness-0-230-0-345-crop

Body Team 12

Chau, Beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – WINNER

Last Day of Freedom

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER MadMaxFuryRoadImmortan

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

Best Original Song

“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of GreyTil_It_Happens_to_You_by_Lady_Gaga

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“‘Til It Happens to You,” The Haunting Ground – WINNER

“Writings on the Wall,” Spectre

Best Animated Short Film4edc1645760f5d20edf79dfa367d9b3f0cf21a14320ea3801cac4c529a67ab6a-1024x576

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow – WINNER

Best Live Action Short Film69d1686a857d030df21f4560ec12cd7a87123fd2a4b27aebee20b27926f3a0c9-724x1024

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Shok – WINNER

Stutterer

Best Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNERmaxresdefault-1

The Martian

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies
mad-max-6

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

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

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

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.

 

giphy-3

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

academyawards-2015

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

2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards Thoughts

la-et-mn-sag-awards-2015-birdman-wins-cast-motion-picture

Well that was an interesting night! I went 8 for 13 (which isn’t that bad), the sound guy and clips supervisor will probably be fired, and we learned the crazy apple doesn’t fall far from the insane tree (Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds). I kind of love when my predictions are wrong because the night is way more fun when it’s full of surprises. Well, at least the TV categories were a ton of fun.

What I like about the SAGs, aside from how quickly they move and how fast it gets to the award-giving, is that they make their non-award-giving time worthwhile. During tonight’s production flawed broadcast, the clips montage of the history films dealing with social issues was a highlight. During a night of trivial, narcissistic award giving (don’t forget: I love this stuff so much), we were reminded why we make art. It demonstrated the significance of actors being vessels to instill change, discuss idea, bring attention to rights, and educate the masses. All of this through nostalgic film clips that we know and love. These types of things should be shown at Oscars instead of modern dance pieces to film scores that lack poignancy and elongate an already bloated running time.

debbie-reynoldsOn that note, the two hour SAG awards went by in a flash (minus the absolutely wacky Debbie Reynolds tribute). Overall the surprises kept it engaging early on in the TV categories and the film awards allowed us to really foresee what the Oscars may bring in February. Below are the winners and my specific thoughts.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture – Birdman

I’m probably wrong, but I still think ‘Boyhood’ has an Oscar shot, but after winning this and the PGA, ‘Birdman’ winning Best Picture is probably a done deal.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role – Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

eddie-redmayne-sag-awards-2015-ftr-1Redmayne now has a Golden Globe and a SAG for this role. Keaton is still in the Oscar race, but it’s going to be tough to blow past Redmayne’s true story disabled British genius in a period piece performance.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role – Julianne Moore – Still Alice

An Oscar lock. Lovely speech.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role – JK Simmons – Whiplash

He’s an Oscar lock.jk-simmons-800

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role – Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

rs_560x415-150125174221-1024.Patricia-Arquette-SAG-Awards-Winner.ms.012515_copyAnother Oscar lock. The Oscars are gonna be pretty boring again, aren’t they?

 

downton-abbey

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – Downton Abbey

Called it! How cute is everybody!?

UZO ADUBA OF THE NETFLIX SERIES "ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK" ACCEPTS THE AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ENSEMBLE IN A COMEDY SERIES ALONG WITH HER FELLOW CAST MEMBERS AT THE 21ST ANNUAL SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS IN LOS ANGELES

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series – Orange is the New Black

Not only did they deserve it, ‘Orange’ dethroned ‘Modern Family’. When Uzo won and Burrell lost, ‘Orange’ had the wide open opportunity to take the statue. So happy they won. Moving into the

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series – Kevin Spacey – House of Cards

I get so giddy when he wins, even though I really don’t enjoy the show. I’m actually surprised that McConaughey didn’t win one big award for his ‘True Detective’ role during awards season. Then again, he won the Best Actor Oscar for it–I mean ‘Dallas Buyers Club’.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series – Viola Davis – How To Get Away with Murder

The combo platter of Davis and Shonda Rhimes is unstoppable. Great speech. rs_560x415-150125184350-1024.Viola-Davis-SAG-Awards-Winner.ms.012515

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series – William H Macy – Shameless

I have to say, this one was a total surprise. Nice to see ‘Shameless’ get some love. It’s funny that this show switched from the drama to comedy category (like ‘Orange’) and the first award it wins is for it’s most dramatic season. Awards Season is funny like that.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series – Uzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black

1422235851_winners-467As the first award of the night, this set the mood for a few nice surprises here and there. I’m thrilled that Uzo won. She’s excellent on the show, but I still question her inclusion in this category based on quite a few factors. Regardless, she and the show got some deserved love and her genuine surprise was incredible to watch.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries – Mark Ruffalo – The Normal Heart

Let’s just say I was just as surprised as Billy Bob Thornton.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries – Frances Mcdormand – Olive Kitteridge

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. She wasn’t going to lose this award.

Now, my friends, ONTO THE OSCARS!!!!!

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards Predictions

screen-actors-guild-awards-logo

The awards season took an interesting turn with last night’s announcement that ‘Birdman’ won the Producers Guild Award. Until last night, ‘Boyhood’ was suspected to be the frontrunner, but for the last seven years the PGA has predicted the Oscar for Best Picture. This is going to make predicting the race much harder, as these last few years hasn’t had a race this close. We’ll see if the PGA’s streak holds up in February. The SAGs, tonight at 8pm on TNT and TBS, predict Oscars acting winners with a relatively high accuracy (nothing’s perfect though). Between the PGA and the SAGs, I’ll have a lot to think about when sitting in front of my blank ballot this year.

Below are my predictions for the painless and quick awards ceremony that marks the start to the long month before the Oscars. We’ll have all the information we need for our final prediction, but will be waiting and waiting and waiting. Yeah, yeah, we all know it’s drawn out, but look, the Oscars used to be in March!

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Birdman-3Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

Should Win – Boyhood; Could Win – The Grand Budapest Hotel; Will Win – Birdman

This category is very different from the Best Picture race at the Oscars. For Example,  ‘12 Years a Slave’, ‘The Artist’, ‘Million Dollar Baby’, ‘The Departed’ and ‘The Hurt Locker’ all lost this SAG category and went on to win best picture. So, this race is a little bit up in the boyhood-posterair. As I mentioned, the changing shifts in frontrunner is like nothing we’ve seen in the recent past. A loss here for ‘Boyhood’ could hurt its chances come Oscar night, now that ‘Birdman’ is the PGA winner. It need another significant win from a voting body that overlaps with the Academy members to prove that this race is still alive. (Then again, with this track record of Oscars winner/loser it might even help it’s golden statue chances if it loses.) I hope it wins to keep conversations interesting. This all being said, the SAG voters will go with ‘Birdman’. A movie about acting and the legacy you leave behind starring some of the best actors working right now? It’ll be hard to beat at an awards show voted on by actors. (Then again, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ could be the grand ol’ spoiler of the night and I would love it.)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role

635488916742130002-birdmanv2Steve Carell – ‘Foxcatcher’

Benedict Cumberbatch – ‘The Imitation Game’

Jake Gyllenhaal – ‘Nightcrawler’

Michael Keaton – ‘Birdman’

Eddie Redmayne – ‘The Theory of Everything’

Should Win – Michael Keaton; Could Win – Eddie Redmayne; Will Win – Michael Keaton

This is a two horse race and it will stay that way for Oscars regardless of what happens tonight. Redmanye’s performance is of the stuff that awards shows salivate over. He went through a physical transformation to play a real disabled British genius in a period piece. I mean, come on, how can you lose? He will lose though because the SAG voters will have the actor playing the actor in a movie that echoes the real life comeback of Keaton.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role

cdn.indiewireJennifer Aniston – ‘Cake’

Felicity Jones – ‘The Theory of Everything’

Julianne Moore – ‘Still Alice’

Rosamund Pike – ‘Gone Girl’

Reese Witherspoon – ‘Wild’

Should Win – Julianne Moore; Could Win – Jennifer Aniston; Will Win – Julianne Moore

A lot of members could vote for Aniston, as she is a TV comedy actress who worked her way to up to a “serious role.” They may also want to award her since she didn’t get an Oscar nomination. However, this is Julianne Moore’s to lose and she’s not going to at all.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Whiplash-7567.cr2Robert Duvall – ‘The Judge’

Ethan Hawke – ‘Boyhood’

Edward Norton – ‘Birdman’

Mark Ruffalo – ‘Foxcatcher’

JK Simmons – ‘Whiplash’

Should Win – Ethan Hawke; Could Win – Edward Norton; Will Win – JK Simmons

This is a pretty dense category filled with incredbile performances (sans Duvall) Simmons will win, but Norton could very well give him a run for his money. ‘Birdman’ and it’s actor-centric plot is going to be unstoppable at the SAGs, but Norton won’t beat out Simmons. His respected 20 year character actor career and amazing performance in ‘Whiplash’ will continue this awards season domination.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

patty2_article_story_largePatricia Arquette – ‘Boyhood’

Keira Knightley – ‘The Imitation Game’

Emma Stone – ‘Birdman’

Meryl Streep – ‘Into the Woods’

Naomi Watts – ‘St. Vincent’

Should Win – Patricia Arquette; Could Win – Emma Stone; Will Win – Patricia Arquette

This is a weak field in general, but even in a strong year Arquette would win. This is the only true lock of the evening.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

downton-abbey-logo-001Boardwalk Empire

Downton Abbey

Game of Thrones

Homeland

House Of Cards

Should Win – Game of Thrones; Could Win – House of Cards; Will Win – Downton Abbey

With ‘Breaking Bad’ no longer a contender, this category, like its film counterpart, is up in the air. Even though it was the surprise winner in a ‘Breaking Bad-less category two years ago, I see no reason why ‘Downton Abbey’ won’t pick back up an award again. TV awards have a long history of repeat winners and it take a lot for another show to break streaks.  ‘House of Cards’ wasn’t nominated for season 1, so it could win as a ‘technical newbie’ to this category. (Though you can look at it like ‘Cards’ is only filling a space that ‘Breaking Bad’ can no longer occupy.) Despite all of this, ‘Game of Thrones’ should win, but it won’t, even if it has one of the best ensemble on TV. What a shame.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

orange-new-black-season-2-casting-rumorsThe Big Bang Theory

Brooklyn Nine-nine

Modern Family

Orange is the New Black

Veep

Should Win – Orange is the New Black; Could Win – Modern Family; Will Win – Orange is the New Black

Now in the comedy category, ‘Orange is the New Black’ received its first ensemble nomination this year. It’s also going to win. It has a true ensemble, executing at a very high level. Unless ‘Modern Family’ wins again (which wouldn’t be a surprise anybody because you really shouldn’t bet against the house), ‘Orange’ will take it and all will rejoice. Honestly, if ‘Modern Family’ does win again, I will be upset, again.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Matthew-McConaughy-Open-to-a-True-Detective-ReturnSteve Buscemi – Boardwalk Empire

Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones

Woody Harrelson – True Detective

Matthew McConaughey – True Detective

Kevin Spacey – House of Cards

Should Win – Peter Dinklage; Could Win – Kevin Spacey; Will Win – Matthew McConaughey

Dinklage would be my pick to win this award, but we all know that he has no shot against Mr. McConaughey. Since he didn’t win the Emmy, the SAGs will reward him for his impressive turn in ‘True Detective’. However, he’s hasn’t won for this part in a while, so I could see the downswing in the “Mcconaissance” open the doors for the ever popular and scene-chewingly good Spacey to win. We all love a good Frank Underwood come from behind story.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

viola-davis-getting-away-murder-articleClaire Danes – Homeland

Viola Davis – How To Get Away with Murder

Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife

Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black

Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey

Robin Wright – House of Cards

Should Win – Tatiana Maslany; Could Win – Julianna Margulies; Will Win – Viola Davis

Last year Maggie Smith won, so there won’t be a repeat winner. The SAGs love Davis, as she previously won for ‘The Help’, beating out Meryl Streep, who would go on to win the Oscar. They also love Shonda Rhimes shows, as they fare very well at the SAGs. (Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh both won this award.) Margulies has won for this show quite a bit (twice) and with no repeat winner, the actor could go right back to her. I still foresee a Davis win.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

TY BURRELLTy Burrell – Modern Family

Louis CK – Louis

William H Macy – Shameless

Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory

Eric Stonestreet – Modern Family

Should Win – Louis CK; Could Win – Jim Parsons; Will Win – Ty Burrell

Burrell won last year and we know how every awards show just has to love ‘Modern Family’ (Burrell ended Alec Baldwin’ 7 year ‘30 Rock’ streak). Parsons keep winning the Emmy, so maybe the SAGs follow suit? Probably not.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Selina signs her bookUzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black

Julie Bowen – Modern Family

Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep

Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation

Should Win – Amy Poehler; Could Win – Uzo Aduba; Will Win – Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Louis-Dreyfus won last year and almost every other award for this show. She is a TV goddess and won’t lose. If ‘Orange is the New Black’ finds heavy support, Uzo has a chance to win, but she isn’t the lead and realistically, Julia is going to be impossible to beat.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

fargo-306-1394549574Adrien Brody – Houdini

Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock: His Last Vow

Richard Jenkins – Olive Kitteridge

Mark Ruffalo – The Normal Heart

Billy Bob Thornton – Fargo

Should Win – Billy Bob Thornton; Could Win – Mark Ruffalo; Will Win – Billy Bob Thornton

With no McConaughey in this category, Billy Bob has this one in the bag. Ruffalo could pull out a surprise as a double nominee this evening, but as good and important as ‘The Normal Heart’ is, nobody was better as Thorton as the villainous Lorne Malvo.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

olivekitteridge12Ellen Burstyn – Flowers in the Attic

Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Honorable Woman

Frances McDormand – Olive Kitteridge

Julia Roberts – The Normal Heart

Cicely Tyson – The Trip to Bountiful

Should Win – Frances McDormand; Could Win – Cicely Tyson; Will Win – Frances McDormand

This McDormand’s award all the way. Tyson could take the statue because the SAGs do love to award a veteran in this category, but McDormand’s performance and standing as an elite artist in the eyes of voters will push her over the top.

Later this evening (or tomorrow morning), I’ll have a SAGs recap for you all. Enjoy the show.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Dear… OSCARS

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Dear Oscars,

You have to stop nominating actors and actresses into the lead category when they are clearly supporting roles. Your understanding of what a protagonist or anti-hero and character arc is continues to be–

Wait a minute. I’m sorry. Before I begin criticizing you, I want to be as clear as day. I love you very much. As a child you were my gateway drug into film and the conversation that could be had about film. You were (and still are) bigger than any other holiday in my personal calendar. While I have grown to understand your trivial nature, my enchantment with you is unwavering. I used to be able to name every single best picture, actor, and actress winner. I knew all the facts and figures. My first “MUST WATCH” lists were based on what you deemed ‘the best’.  Then, through backwards ways, you taught me the true meaning of subjectivity and objectivity in art.

My summers are spent going to the movies, absorbing all of the fantasy, superhero, sci-fi movies my little brain, eyes, and ears can handle. My fall and winter are spent seeing everything that will potentially be nominated or just in your nomination conversation. Then I take your nominations list, run it against everything I know about you, pick your winners, and win some Oscar-pool prizes. I dedicate my free time to my love of film and my obsession with you.

Since I know so much about you, I also see your glaring flaws. (We all have them, so don’t stream_imgget defensive.) I could go on and on about how your broadcast doesn’t prioritize its viewers, or how your nominations system is flawed, or how I see more of the nominated movies than your voters, or how you don’t pay attention to certain genres, or how– okay, I’ll stop. You get it. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before and you’ll hear it from years to come. What really bothers me though, like really, really bothers me is when you compromise your understanding of Lead and Supporting Actor/Actress–a semi-straight forward concept when it comes to basic storytelling.

Let’s use this year’s nominations as an example. Steve Carell is nominated in the category of: BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE for ‘Foxcatcher’. I saw that movie. I have the ticket stub to prove it, so I’m pretty sure that Channing Tatum’s character, Mark Schultz, is the mainfoxcatcher1 character. He’s the protagonist that the audience connects and empathizes with throughout the bloated two hour and fourteen minute running time. Tatum’s Mark is the character that we follow as he is led to make bad choice after bad choice. The story that ‘Foxcatcher’ is presenting is the story of Mark Schultz. Once his story is complete, Schultz isn’t in the movie for about 20 minutes. The director, Bennett Miller, had told his full story, so despite the shocking penultimate scene, the last portion of the movie is dull and without a main character.

Oscars, I totally agree that Carell is excellent as John du Pont. I’m not criticizing his performance. He’s haunting as the manipulative, isolated rich man, but still only serves as steve_carell_foxcatcheran obstacle in Mark’s way of self-discovery. Regardless of screentime, du Pont is a supporting character in Mark’s story. John Du Pont has no real character arc–he’s just as troubled at the start of the film as he is at the end. His barometer needle doesn’t move enough to warrant a lead actor credit. Du Pont doesn’t go through any type of transformation that puts him in a different place–he just chooses to act on his already tainted thoughts.  Your cousin, the BAFTA’s, got it right,  Oscars. Carell should be nominated for Supporting Actor. His nomination bumps two actors, Jake Gyllenhaal (‘Nightcrawler’) and David Oyelowo (‘Selma’), out of the field that they actually fit and gives Robert Duvall’s unworthy performance in ‘The Judge’ a spot in the supporting line-up*.

*Note: Duvall does fit your historically documented love of giving supporting nominations to veteran actors in when they haven’t been around a lot lately.

You have a very clear history of allowing for this sort of category jump, Oscars. I can name dozens of examples. For instance, Meryl Streep’s monstrous Miranda Priestly in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ was nominated for Lead Actress. I saw that one too! I’m The-Devil-Wears-Prada-Theme-Song-1almost positive that Anne Hathaway’s Andrea Sachs is that movie’s lead character. It’s almost exactly like the ‘Foxcatcher’ example. Do you get what I’m saying, golden statue man? You know, I can’t tell because you haven’t moved a muscle, so I’ll try and figure out another one. Okay, here. Did you see ‘Training Day’? You probably did because Denzel Washington won Best Lead Actor for the role of Alonzo Harris. That’s so interesting to me because Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is that film’s lead character and Hawke was nominated for Supporting Actor. Oscar, I could go on with examples like Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin Dada in ‘The Last King of Scotland’, Judi Dench as Barbara Covett in ‘Notes on a Scandal’, Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz in ‘The Reader’, and to lesser extents, a206a947-68dd-49ab-8fe7-e7272596cb64.grid-6x2Louise Fletcher in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, Anthony Hopkins in ‘Silence of the Lambs’, Morgan Freeman in ‘Invictus’ and Michelle Williams in ‘My Week with Marilyn’.* In my opinion, in a weaker year for all male categories, JK Simmons would be up for Best Lead Actor for ‘Whiplash’. All of these performers are 100% worthy of accolades for their work in these roles, but in the correct category.

Is it because it’s a famous actor bringing a human side to a villainous character? (Most of these parts are charismatic villains that create obstacles for the leads.) Is it purely because of the studio’s campaign for the lead nomination? (These are your rules, so you can do what you want.) Maybe it’s because these parts seem to overshadow the other actors or actresses in the film? (Character roles are usually the most entertaining parts of a film, especially when executed at high level.)

Oscars, if you had a mouth, you’d probably say something like, “Bryan, I love you too, but a movie can have more than one lead! Why can’t Carell and Tatum both be considered leads?” First of all, thanks, I love you too. Second, sure they can. I’ve seenTrainingDay ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, ‘The Theory of Everything’, ‘When Harry Met Sally’, ‘Thelma and Louise’, ‘9 to 5’, and of course, ‘Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion’. Films can absolutely have two lead characters, but both the characters need to have full arcs and do more than ‘hinder that other person’. We get caught up in the glitz and glamour in what these big time actor and actresses are doing  in this films that we don’t think that, well, maybe they aren’t the emotional focus. It’s not as crazy as it seems when you actually break it down.

So, Oscars, I doubt you’ll do anything to appease my request to shape this up, but I had to try, right? I mean, can you imagine how much more competitive both the Lead and Supporting categories would be if Simmons was up against Carell or Oyelowo/Gyllenhaal went mano y mano with Keaton and Redmayne?! Wowza! Again, I love you and know that you’ve been doing this since 1927. I hope there are no hard feelings, but seriously, know how narratives and story work before you start handing out awards.

One more quick thing while I have your attention. If ‘American Sniper’ wins Best Picture based on its current box office momentum over any of the other seven nominees, I’ll never watch you again. I seriously mean that statement. I don’t think I can handle that letdown. Thanks, man.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

2015 Oscar Nominations

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

HAPPY OSCAR NOMINIATIONS MORNING TO YOU ALL! The entire year of movies has boiled down to this penultimate step! (That’s a sweeping, untrue generalization, but it’s the Oscars—a time to be dramatic. Unfortunately, it’s not a time to be comedic because the academy doesn’t take well to “that genre,” unless you’re Woody Allen.) ANYWAY, before I have to go and do stuff for work*, below are the core category nominations and some of my initial reactions.

*Note: Yes, I came to my office early to make sure I could livestream the presser, quickly blog about them, and not be late for work. That’s just what I do.

Best Picture

American Sniper

Birdman

MV5BMTYzNDc2MDc0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTcwMDQ5MTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Quick thoughts, clear “snubs,” and my early prediction:

  • Only 8 nominations. Thought there would be 9.
  • No Foxcatcher, but Bennett Miller was nominated for best director and the screenplay received a nod
  • Huzzah for Whiplash
  • No Nightcrawler (which has a writing nomination)
  • Early favorite: BOYHOOD

Best Director

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman

Richard Linklater – Boyhoodboyhood-richard-linklater2

Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Mortern Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Quick thoughts, clear “snubs,” and my early prediction:

  • No Selma (boo) or American Sniper (yay) which both have Best Picture nominations
  • I’m a big advocate of: there are no Best Director Snubs, because there are only 5 spots for a potential 10 movie Best Picture race.
  • Bennett Miller is the HUGE surprise here, as he hasn’t received many of these for Foxcatcher. Plus it’s not up for best picture.
  • Would have loved to see Damien Chazelle for Whiplash here. The last 10 minutes deserves an honorary Oscar!
  • Early Frontrunner: RICHARD LINKLATER

Best Actor

Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Bradly Cooper – American Sniper

and-the-oscar-goes-to-could-birdman-be-the-first-superhero-movie-nominated-for-best-pictureBenedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Quick thoughts, clear “snubs,” and my early prediction:

  • Carrell was on the fence as him momentum started to swing down, but got a nomination regardless which meant one person was getting snubbed.
  • BUT THEN, Bradly Cooper was nominated and two people were snubbed: Sorry Jake Gyllenhaal and David Oyelowo (Nightcrawler and Selma). American Sniper’s Oscar campaign definitely helped it here.
  • Alas, no Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel). Not that I expected it, but still a boy can hope.
  • Early Frontrunner: MICHAEL KEATON

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones – The Theory of EverythingJulianne-Moore-in-Still-Alice

Julianne Moore – Still Alice

Rosemund Pike – Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Quick thoughts, clear “snubs,” and my early prediction:

  • Except for Cotillard taking a spot (Yay) from Jennifer Aniston from Cake, not surprised here.
  • Early Frontrunner: JULIANNE MOORE

Best Supporting Actor

635483774418719401-01-simmonsRobert Duvall – The Judge

Ethan Hawke – Boyhood

Edward Norton – Birdman

Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

JK Simmons – Whiplash

Quick thoughts, clear “snubs,” and my early prediction:

  • Zero Surprises here at all.
  • Early Frontrunner: JK SIMMONS

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood53ec746af1a7bba0_pat2.xxxlarge

Laura Dern – Wild

Kiera Knightly – The Imitation Game

Emma Stone – Birdman

Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Quick thoughts, clear “snubs,” and my early prediction:

  • Dern out of NOWHERE. I love it!
  • Altough it is sad that Jessica Chastain gets no A Most Violent Year.
  • Early Frontrunner: PATRICA ARQUETTE

Best Original Screenplay

hr_The_Grand_Budapest_Hotel_3Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

Quick thoughts, clear “snubs,” and my early prediction:

  • For me, no surprises here, as Selma was the only film that had field breaking potential
  • Early Frontrunner: BIRDMAN

Best Adapted Screenplay

American SniperPoster-art-for-The-Imitation-Game-film-Alan-Turing-Enigma-codebreaking-movie

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Quick thoughts, clear “snubs,” and my early prediction:

  • I still think it’s crazy for Whiplash to be an adapted screenplay
  • Inherent Vice is a nice surprise though.
  • Sorry Gone Girl (NBD)
  • Early Frontrunner: The IMITATION GAME

OTHER:

  • I also want to mention how shocked I am that ‘The LEGO Movie’ wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature!
  • And somebody should check the mics during the livestream dead time. I’m pretty sure the TV staff was practicing their cues and I heard all of the nominations.
  • Yes, congrats to Dick Poop!(PRACTICE BEFORE YOU SPEAK, PRESIDENT BOONE!)
  • This is the first year since 1995 where all of the acting nominees are white.
  • And where are all the women? No director (AVA) or screenplay (GILLIAN) reps!
  • Honestly, there are little surprises here or there in these categories (Cooper, Dern, Cotillard, Miller), but do surprises really matter when most of the winners are locks (Moore, Simmons, and Arquette)? This has been the pattern since the Academy moved the Oscars from March to February.

As we break these down and the media has a field day over all of this information, it’s really nice that most of these nominations are from independent films. If these awards get some people into the theatre to see a movie that will challenge, excite, or inform them, then the Oscars have done their job already.

The Oscars Awards ceremony will be hosted by NPH on Sunday, February 22nd.

 

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Moore, Cotillard–Please!: Reviews of ‘Still Alice’ and ‘Two Days, One Night’

Julianne Moore and Marion Cotillard are the best. They continually choose tough, challenging, thoughtful parts in interesting movies that seem to always fly under the radar. marioncotillard1(‘A Single Man’, ‘Don Jon’, ‘The Immigrant’, ‘Rust and Bone’) When they do appear in a larger scale films, they bring so much to their roles that it’s hard to pay attention to anybody else (‘Mockingjay’, ‘Inception’). They mesmerize. As Cate Blanchett proclaimed in her ‘Blue Jasmine’ Oscar acceptance speech, “…and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the 405bdcd4d7d479c6b515bf49242cb7ec_largecenter are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.” These two woman prove this powerful sentiment over and over. Sorry Meryl, along with Blancett and Chastain, they’ve been the best for a while now. Recently, I had the pleasure to sit through two excellent, nuanced performances from these actresses.

Still Alice

Based on Lisa Genova’s novel of the same name, ‘Still Alice’ chronicles an accomplished Columbia University linguistics professor, Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), as her mind slowly deteriorates due to a rare case of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. So, yeah, this is a rough one.

Nobody is better than Julianne Moore this year. I hate to chalk up an entire movie’s quality to one performance, as ‘Still Alice’ is beautifully filmed with a natural touch, and wonderfully acted by her co-stars, but it really is Moore’s show. They all supporting this movie’s, and Hollywood’s, true star. Her performance is so delicate, layered, and heartbreaking, that there is room to mistake this for a documentary of sorts.

Alice’s determination to fight the deterioration of her mind, body, and family is put on full display. Moore conveys such a sense of acceptance, denial, and pure fight throughout the MV5BMjIzNzAxNjY1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDg4ODQxMzE@._V1_SX214_AL_entity of the film that when, eventually, hope starts to evaporate, it’s all the more gut-wrenching. Even in her attempts to stall the speed of the disease through different memory methods, Alice knows it’s only a momentary win; her disease is destined to worsen quickly. As Alice loses bits and pieces of herself, which is mapped out with incredbile detail by Moore and the directors, her husband and children reluctantly see the end and, sadly, begin to plan their new beginning in some matter of fact, hard to swallow scenes.

Alice’s fade is hardest on her youngest child, Lydia (Kristen Stewart) and husband John (Alec Baldwin), respectively. Stewart and Baldwin are featured heavily (as far as anybody can be featured in this one woman show) and are excellent. The use of these two characters’ different reactions to the circumstance add insightful and necessary padding around the central character’s journey.

I think that Lydia sees a more stripped down version of her mother—who she used to be or truly is at heart. John just doesn’t see his wife anymore after being her sole caretaker. He lives with, and is taking care of, a pod creature. To deal with his sorrow, he separates himself in an attempt to move on. Lydia gets closer, knowing that a crushing blow is coming. Haunted by the thought: “This wasn’t supposed to happen to us”– John and Lydia’s reactions are surprising to even themselves.

I won’t go into detail of some of my favorite moments, as I want you to see them for the Alec+Baldwin+Alec+Baldwin+Julianne+Moore+Film+NcKfQ3L5Qfolfirst time in context. However I will say that these mishaps and moments never plateau the film, they are strung together to create a natural evolution of the story and overwhelming loss of, and for, Alice.

Directors Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer deserve a lot of credit that they kept this film from crossing the threshold into melodramatic territory. There is a grounded reality to the work. Told within a simple framework of hazy old films (memories?) of Alice’s long deceased sister and mother, the film’s thematic elements of love, memory, and self-preservation are beautifully, but not abundantly, highlighted as we follow Alice through her devastating final act. Yes, you will cry for two hours–maybe even after. Julianne Moore’s performance will break your heart because Alice is always there, even in her eyes, but at the same time there’s a vacancy that can’t be filled. Once again, Mr. Oscar is Moore’s to lose — and she won’t.

Two Days, One Night

After taking time off due to depression, a wife and mother of two, Sandra (Marion Cotillard), loses her job at the local factory. Her co-workers have collectively chosen to let her go and each take a bonus. Hesitantly, Sandra takes the weekend to convince the majority to change their minds before a second vote on Monday morning. Once again, not light content.

‘Two Days, One Night’ is simple in its premise, but complex it in its ideas and morals. It’s a film not only about finding happiness and inner strength in a world that seemingly hands MV5BMjIyMzczMDI0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjI5Nzk3MTE@._V1_SY1200_CR126,0,630,1200_AL_out raw deals, but about decision making as an individual versus in a group setting and how these decisions genuinely affect the well-being of others. If Sandra can effectively convince the majority to vote for her, she will have discovered that she can have a more direct control over her circumstances–all of them. The opportunity to course correct your own life and potentially succeed is terrifying. For a movie that is about these very moral dilemmas,‘Two Days, One Night’ never gets preachy or over the top. It is all executed well by directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne–beautiful shots of isolation mixed with straight-forward static shots to not distract from Cotillard playing the nervous saleswoman trying to convert voters.

Cotillard’s subtle, big-when-it-needs-to-be, performance holds the narrative together so tightly that it never seems to unravel as she visits co-worker after co-worker. Her husband (Fabrizio Rongione), full of sadness, love and obligation, is the supportive fire that she needs to get going. He’s both looking out for his, her, and their well being and it’s abundantly clear that there are three sources of motivation. They are broken team on completely different pages, clawing to make it all work. There is a layer of their relationship that is only discussed once, three-fourths of the way through the film, but it weighs heavily on everything this family is fighting for throughout the film.

As Sandra struggles to allow herself to fight for her own (and family’s) survival, her co-workers’ justifications for their choices and their willingness to listen to her side vary. It’s Two Days, One Nightan interesting study into what a little extra money does to people. Is the ability to help my fellow man override the need to care for my own family? Is this my money or am I taking it? When given these two options, who does a person become? It’s a high stakes situation that determines the outcome for an entire slew of families in a tough economy. The decision is not as easy as one thinks and the movie doesn’t make look that way.

The third act is very straightforward with some predictable moments, but the outcome is justified and lovely in a way I didn’t expect. The feelings you’re left with kind of sneak up on you. There is a scene (you’ll know it when you see it) that despite the dire circumstances and seriousness of the actions, seems rushed and inconsequential. It incorporated character beats that needed to be included, but didn’t organically flow into the next portion of the story. However, what could have been an below average, run of the mill film, is elevated through Cotillard’s performance, a nicely paced script, and thoughtful direction. It’s not one of my favorite films of this past year, but it’s quite memorable, thanks to its leading lady.

If you go out of your way to enjoy both of these films (which you should), you’ll see how similar these women’s characters are, albeit in very different circumstances. They draw two-days-one-night-cannes-2014-5hope from the same places and they need to find or maintain their own personhood before it’s gone. These films should not only be categorized as “female films,” but explorations of any persons’ identity and strength.

Cotillard already has her Oscar statue for 2007’s ‘La Vie En Rose’ and Moore is sure to win this year. How does she not have a little golden man already?! Fun Fact That Doesn’t Really Matter: Interestingly, Cotillard beat out front runner Julie Christie for ‘Away From Her’ in ‘07, another well-made film about the effect of Alzheimer’s disease. This year, she only has an outside shot to break into the field, which is ashame. Hopefully we will see both of these women in this year’s ‘Best Actress’ article-0-1C4CD36E00000578-831_634x424category (a category that should be considered stronger year to year). Regardless of what “The Academy” thinks, we’ll get to absorb and ruminate about these two women’s strong work for years to come. As Cate Blanchett pointed out, I am ready to see and happy to spend my money on movies that feature these women. The best of the best.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan