Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Picks (and then the winners)

As most of you know, the Oscar Awards show is was on tonight. Following are were my picks for the winners. If I’m right about even one, I’ll be thrilled. In some instances, such as the Foreign Language Film and Documentary Feature, it’ll be an absolute guess as I haven’t seen any of them. Feel free to chime in with your choices. I would like to note that though I really liked Django Unchained (I would love for Quentin Tarantino to win an Oscar), Beasts of the Southern Wild and Zero Dark Thirty I felt that, comparatively speaking, they didn’t quite add up.

So…the Academy Awards is over. I didn’t get any of the actors and actresses right. Oh well. Let’s see how I did on the rest. I think I got a tad carried away watching the Awards this year. There was either jumping up and down with glee or much wailing and gnashing of teeth (okay it wasn’t that dramatic) in anger. You’ll know which cause the latter. The italicized items are what were added after the show. Well, except the parts with the winners' names. The names with the lines through them are my guesses that didn't come to fruition.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Amour
Django Unchained (Yea, Quentin!)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Argo

Visual Effects
Life of Pi
Though I really REALLY wanted The Avengers to win something

I really don’t know a whole lot about the next two categories so these are absolute guesses:

Sound Mixing
Les Miserables (Nailed it!)

Sound Editing
Argo
And it’s a tie!!!
Skyfall and
Zero Dark Thirty

Short Film (Live Action)
Death of a Shadow (Dood Van Een Schaduw)
I really think the above-mentioned short should win but if I had my druthers it’d be: Henry
Curfew (Are you flippin’ kidding me?)

Short Film (Animated)
Paperman (It just had to win. It was an easy choice.)
Followed closely by:
Fresh Guacamole

Production Design
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Lincoln (I always go for the fantasy films over reality. Seems like that would be harder to design what with no history books to use for reference.)

Music (Original Song)
Skyfall (Came unglued on this one. Yea, Adele!!!)
Because I would love for a James Bond song to win and because I love Adele’s music.

Music (Original Score)
Life of Pi (I almost had to resort to eeny meeny miney mo on this one)

Makeup and Hairstyling
Les Miserables
Followed closely by:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Foreign Language Film
Amour
I chose this solely because it made the list for Best Picture and the others didn’t
(Apparently a good deduction on my part, if I do say so myself)

Film Editing
Argo

Documentary Short Subject
Mondays at Racine
Inocente (To keep this from becoming political I will refrain from posting the reason I was absolutely miffed that this won. It was a good story but Racine was better in so many ways.)

Documentary Feature
Searching for Sugar Man
It’s music related. That’s my only reason.

Directing
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi (While happy for Ang Lee I was really rooting for Benh Zeitlin on this one)

Costume Design
Anna Karenina (Period costumes tend to kick butt)
Followed closely by:
Mirror Mirror
(I saw in the In Memoriam section that the costume designer for Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka, passed away this past year. She was very talented and has some big shoes to fill. No pun intended.)

Cinematography
Life of Pi

Animated Feature Film
Brave

Actress in a Supporting Role
Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables (I wasn’t thrilled with this but she really did do a good job in this particular movie so I can’t gripe too much.)

Actress in a Leading Role
Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
If you watch this for no other reason than to see this little girl’s acting it’ll be worth it
Jennifer Lawrence (I happened to be on the phone with mom when the winner was announced. My shriek of, “NOOOOOO!” just might send her to the doctor to have her ear checked. Sorry, mom. Love you.)

Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
Christoph Waltz (I just didn’t think Django would win anything because of the EXTREME violence and gore. I’m thrilled that Christoph won. He really was good.)

Actor in a Leading Role
Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables
Daniel Day-Lewis (It’s hard to be mad when he wins. He’s just that good.)
Could someone please explain to me how Argo and Life of Pi could get so many nominations but neither was nominated for Best Actor? Ridiculous! I feel cheated.

Best Picture
This was the most difficult choice but I think I’ll go with
Argo (Yea, Ben!!! You so deserved this!)
Followed closely by:
Les Miserables

I thought I was going to stay away from politics and I hate to end the post this way but could someone please explain to me what Michelle Obama has to do with the Academy Awards and why they even bothered with Jack Nicholson? Cue the JAWS music, please!

And on a positive note, I stated that I would be thrilled if I guessed even one correctly. I guessed 14 correctly. Out of 24. How 'bout them apples?!?!?! Yes, humility is one of my best qualities. If only I'd gotten the actors and actresses. Oh well. There's always next year.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Oscar-Nominated Documentary Short Subject

Spike and I went to the OKCMOA (Oklahoma City Museum of Art) last night to watch the Oscar-nominated short documentaries. I was under the impression that short meant 20 minutes or less. When the gentleman announcing the names of the nominees informed us that a short actually meant 40 minutes or less and that most of them hit close to the 40 minute mark I quickly turned to Spike and mouthed, “I’M SO SORRY!!!”. Yes, you can mouth things loudly. It’s true. So, even [now] knowing that we were going to be there a while, we settled in for a long evening of documentaries and, except for one, we were glad we did.

Let me take a moment to say that any opinions in this post, unless otherwise stated, are mine alone. I wasn’t happy at all with the time wasted spent on one of the films and some people may feel that my ranking of the films is all wrong. This is how it affected me last night and I’m sticking to it. Following is the list of nominees based on how much I liked them. I had trouble with the last two because they both brought forth a lot of emotion but I ultimately went with the one that struck closer to home.

5) Kings Point (40 min.)

This was a documentary about retirees who’ve moved from New York to Florida. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t this. It was like high school but with retirees. There was pettiness, gossiping, cheating, etc. In one instance, a man mentions that he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life with the woman he lives with because she’s older than he is and he’s already buried a wife. He wants a younger woman so that someone can bury him. Listening to the things he was saying, I wanted to bury him. I don’t know. Maybe since I’m not in this situation I couldn’t get in to it but I really didn’t see the point. I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to see Kings Point unless it was at a showing such as the one last night. Having said that, it’ll probably take home the award.

Go to the official site here

4) Redemption (35 Min.)

Nope. Not THAT kind of redemption. This showed the lives of New Yorkers who survive solely on Canning; collecting cans, plastic and glass bottles and redeeming them for money at recycle centers. Granted, if you’re going to make your living that way it’s a good city in which to do it considering the population and the amount of recyclables that are thrown out with the garbage. This is a full-time job and if you skip a day, you don’t eat…or drink, as the case may be. This was an okay documentary. I felt like it could have been filmed better. They lost me a few times but held my attention for the most part. It did make me rethink all the things I take for granted, i.e. going to the movies or eating at a restaurant. Once again, this was okay to be seen with the other nominees but I don’t think I’d make the effort otherwise.

I had a bit of trouble finding an official site.

3) Inocente (40 Min.)

This documentary was another reminder of how good I have it despite wishing I had money for better clothes, a nicer car and super nice vacations. This told about Inocente, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been homeless since she was six. She, her mom and her brothers have had places to stay but never for more than three months at a time. She “escapes” this life through painting. I wish I could throw out all kinds of adjectives to describe the paintings but I will never EVER be an art critic. I know what I like and that’s the best I can say about any one piece. I did like her work even though I would never own any of it myself. It’s just not my style. Inocente narrates her story and I liked it all the better for that.

The main thing that bothered me about this story is that she (and her family) is an “undocumented immigrant”. I wonder if her family would still be homeless if they didn’t have to face the constant fear of being deported. This makes me want to do some more research on exactly how difficult it is to become a “documented immigrant”. Aside from that, I might be tempted to go to a showing of this film on its own. I liked how it was filmed though I had my moments in which I wanted the film crew to drive her to wherever she was walking. Yes, that would have taken away from the realness of it but still. I especially loved the dream scene. Something about the way it was filmed really caught me. I want a still picture of it.

In an aside, Spike mentioned that he thinks [non-poverty stricken] children should watch this film to see what it’s like for those not as fortunate. Neither one of us could decide at what age this would be beneficial but I agree that maybe it would help kids rethink things they “just have to have”. I’d like to think it might.

Go the official site here

2) Open Heart (40 Min.?)

Please don’t judge me for putting this second. Maybe it’s my own vanity. You’ll understand more on that when you read my pick for the award. Anyway, Open Heart is about 8 Rwandan children with heart defects who need surgery but whose family cannot afford it. In order to get the operations they so desperately need they are flown to a Sudanese hospital that performs the surgeries at no cost to the patients or their families. You may be thinking, “Wow! That’s awesome!” And it is. The drawback is, the families cannot accompany their children. They have to put them on a plane in hopes that they’ll return. I’m hoping I misunderstood but at one point I thought the doctor said that if something happened and any of the children die, their bodies would not be returning. Please say I’m wrong about that.

While this is about 8 children, the main 2 that it focused on were Angelique, age 6 and Marie, age 17. I know this trip couldn’t have been comfortable for Marie but I can’t imagine what it had to have been like for Angelique; 6 years old and having to leave her dad behind and put her life and trust in the hands of complete strangers. Well, except for the doctor. Marie ended up having the most difficulty and I admit to having cried with her.

Also mentioned in the documentary is where they receive the money for the surgeries. 75% is gained through donations while the remaining 25% is provided by the Sudanese government and, according to the film, Sudanese currency isn’t doing so well these days. I hope the hospital continues to get the funds to be able to take care of these children. I really liked this documentary and would recommend it to just about anyone. They do show one of the surgeries but it wasn’t really bad at all and I’m a turn-your-head-away-during-TV-show-surgeries kind of a girl.

Go to the official site here

1) Mondays at Racine (39 Min.)

This was my favorite of all the documentaries. Mondays at Racine tells the story of cancer patients who are treated to a free day at the Racine salon in Long Island. While the title leads you to believe it’s about the salon, this film focuses mainly on the women affected. Of those women, it most closely follows Cambria and Linda; both breast cancer patients. When we meet Cambria she is dealing with the loss of her hair. She doesn’t want to shave her head because she’ll have to finally admit to having cancer. While she is in the chair getting shaved I cried with her. I couldn’t help it. And I can’t explain it. There are wigs out there to cover the bald but it’s just not the same. One woman in particular showed us her fear of what her husband would think of her bald head. I sobbed. I wasn’t the only one though. There were plenty of sniffles to be heard.

Mondays at Racine goes beyond just the loss of hair. We went home with Cambria and Linda and saw how their illness affected their daily lives. Cambria and her husband were trying to adopt a young boy while Linda was dealing with a husband who just couldn’t be there for her. I felt their heart breaks if only on a small level. So, despite the fact that it, on the surface, seems to be about their hair loss, this goes so much farther.

The film was very well done. It pulled me in and kept me through the final credits. I wept with Cambria as she lost her hair and received not-so-comforting news about the adoption. I hurt for Linda when she made a major decision about her home life and I was at the salon for the hat modeling and the head shaving. I strongly encourage everyone to go watch Mondays at Racine. As soon as it was over I texted my sister that this is something she needs to see. She runs a salon and is a CNA and I could picture this becoming a part of her life. The sisters who run Racine are doing a great thing. Their story is an inspiring one. I really want this documentary to win. Here’s hoping!

Go to the official site here here.