17 March 2006
  post-academy awards malaise
well i am back from a two week blogging hiatus following the oscars, which is kinda confusing considering how much i enjoyed watching the awards. don't get me wrong, of course watching the telecast was as boring as watching capote and i was completely underwhelmed by john stewart's unfunny sarcasm and completely mystified by the countless boring and totally pointless montages, but i actually did enjoy watching the results. . .

okay, to make myself clear, i am not going to argue that crash is a better movie than bareback. i have posted over and over again about why i really enjoyed watching the former and why i didn't enjoy watching the latter. but, like most everyone else, i imagine, i am effing sick and tired of hearing the people who made bareback and the people who championed (i.e. sold) it talk about why crash is the worst piece of trash ever to win an oscar.

so, FIRST OF ALL, was anybody else totally dumbstruck by the incredible weirdness and irritating-ness of larry mcmurtry, diana ossana and the rest of the bareback brood at the awards? larry mcmurtry showed up wearing a tuxedo jacket and blue jeans, looking like a homeless schizophrenic and, to my amusement, in accepting the award for best adapted screenplay, he couldn't have been any less well spoken. here's an excerpt:

Since somehow I unaccountably failed to thank my brilliant partner Diana at the Golden Globes, I'm going to rattle off all the attributes I was going to thank her for at the Golden Globes. Smarts, guts, drive, good judgment, tenacity, loyalty, and generosity.

ummm. you are a famous and well accomplished writer and the best descriptive words you could think of to describe your partner appear to have been lifted from a gatorade bottle?

then you have diana ossana who just appeared to be the hugest bitch at the ball. she couldn't have seemed more non-plussed by her accomplishment. i really hope that she was on an ovedose of vicodin or something because she seemed like she could barely open her eyes. she definitely exuded self satisfaction, but, watching her, i only managed to exude vomit.

# 2. has anyone else read annie proulx's bitter academy awards backlash from the guardian? i posted earlier about how irritated i was to find her short story that launched bareback at borders. the 25 page text has like a 14 point typeface and two inch margins on each tiny page and is being sold for $10! i hope she makes a lot of money so she never feels compelled to publish again. anyways, proulx apparently feels that the subject matter in bareback is more socially relevant to contemporary society than that of crash. (this must be what is motivating her to do her part for social justice by selling 5 page stories for $10 at fine booksellers across the nation).

certainly she has a right to champion whatever social causes are important to her *suppresses giggle* but that does not give her the right to present other social issues as passe. in her rant, she compares the issue of racism in crash to the issue of adultery in the scarlet letter. apparently making a film about racism in the u.s. is soooo yesterday. anyways, i can't believe she is not embarrassed at having published this and when she looks back at it in a few years she is going to realize how silly and immature the whole thing is.

which brings me to POINT THREE. really getting sick over here of the gay community calling academy members out of touch and homophobic just because they prefer crash over bareback people! i am certainly not the only gay man who feels this way and i am not the first to say so. read this great editorial from the advocate by karel. he really captures my sentiments pretty much exactly. still, one thing that i haven't heard anyone point out yet is all of the other films with gay characters and themes that have been really successful at the awards, including bareback: capote, transamerica, monster, far from heaven, gods and monsters, before night falls, all about my mother, boys don't cry and philadelphia, just to name a few. i just don't see academy members refusing to vote for bareback because they were uncomfortable with the gay sex. if they weren't turned off by charlize theron's scary turn as aileen wuornos, i am pretty sure they have sturdy stomachs.

my FINAL argument is that, by vilifying crash and its writers, the people who made bareback are doing nothing to champion their own art. they are just making themselves look mean. i will probably never watch another ang lee film, because i think he is dangerous for the art of film in general. he will stop at nothing to make his own voice heard, even if that means crushing others who are trying to do the same *ahemspielbergahem* everyone should read roger ebert's reactions to the anti-crash backlash because i really think he hit the nail on the head. read it here.

okay that's it.

i will not talk about bareback and the crazy kids at its helm in this blog ever again. i am going to let the issue be. i will try not to talk about crash again either, at least for a while. i would rather start writing about other films again, because i have gotten pretty lapse and have a lot of things to write about. so you can look forward to upcoming posts on mrs. henderson presents, grizzly man, freedomland, a prairie home companion, for your consideration, pi, the prize winner of defiance ohio and MANDERLAY!!!! (*yea* it is finally showing in tucson).
04 March 2006
  who will win (and who should win) tomorrow night

so earlier i plugged this blog i read all the time called the oscar igloo. the writers of the site review movies and do oscar predictions and stuff year round. during academy awards season, the slogan of the blog is "it's not about who we want to win. . . it's about who will." and each of the reviewers predicts who will win the major categories, argues who they would choose personally and write about any films or actors that should have been nominated. so that is how i am going to do my predictions for tomorrow. . .

will win. . . bareback. i know some people are arguing that there might be a surprise upset by crash but, for some unimaginable reason, everyone is sort of mystified by the gay cowboi thing. i don't think that ANYONE would argue that this film would be a best picture nominee if it happened to center around two straight people screwing.
should win. . . crash. this is probably the best movie i have seen in the past two years (since lost in translation and master and commander). it is well written, well directed, well acted. total package. i will definitely watch this one dozens of times. i barely managed to watch bareback one time.
should have been nominated. . . well, first of all, neither good night and good luck nor munich have ANY right at all to be in the top five. and even though i will agree that capote and bareback are well done films, they are definitely not the best of the best. i think my top five would have been crash, pride and prejudice, the constant gardener, walk the line and cinderella man

will win. . . philip seymour hoffman. he was incredible for sure. he is in like every single scene in capote, and it is very difficult acting. i don't think that the oscar should always go to the person who undergoes the biggest transformation a là nicole kidman and charlize theron, but this isn't one of those instances. he will win and deserve it.
should win. . . see above. i have always liked philip seymour hoffman especially in happiness and magnolia. i am glad he is working his way towards more leading man roles. if he doesn't take the award i think it should go to joaquin phoenix, who i don't usually like but who was pretty great as johnny cash. (who shouldn't win? david straithern from good night and good luck. FUCK he was so FUCKING boring!)
should have been nominated. . . it is pretty disappointing that russell crowe didn't got nominated for cinderella man. he would have for sure if this hadn't been the second big boxing movie in two years. also ralph fiennes, as usual, didn't get the attention he deserved, this time for the constant gardener.

will win. . . it seems that usually the one category that there is almost no contest for is the best actress category and this year follows suit as y'all know. reese witherspoon really MADE walk the line and she will win for sure. she has definitely had to work to be one of the most respected actresses i think. i have always loved her, especially in pleasantville and election, and i am definitely happy for her.
should win. . . i am really torn about this. on the one hand i think reese was really great and i will be happy to see her win, especially because she has done so many great things in the past and this is the first time she is getting real attention. on the other hand, the best performance of the year was probably felicity huffman in transamerica. i don't think too many actresses have the range to do what she did in this movie. i would have to go with her.
should have been nominated. . . along with reese and felicity the third best performance of the year was DEFINITELY joan allen in the upside of anger. she always seems to get the brush off from critics who know that she is awesome but apparently find her easy to ignore. this was a great performance and the biggest oversight from the academy.

supporting actor:
will win. . . if there is any category that is not a foregone conclusion, it is this one, but that doesn't say much. this one will go to paul giamatti and not george clooney even though a lot of people are pulling for the latter. giamatti gave a better, more original performance and deserves to get mentioned after he was inexplicably left off the best actor list last year for sideways.
should win. . . well of the people that are nominated, i would probably go for matt dillon. i have a hard time looking past his entire career o'crap, but he was great in crash and definitely made me feel angry, sad, amazed and empathetic in the course of two hours, which is a pretty cool thing for one character to do. on the other hand, the only reason he got this nom and not one of the other actors is because his character is more dynamically written.
should have been nominated. . . the real person who deserves to win this category is probably terrence howard for crash. he would have been nominated over william hurt if he hadn't also been nominated in the best actor category for hustle & flow. i can't wait to see him later this year in the new musical idlewild.

supporting actress:
will win. . . rachael weisz from the constant gardener. this was a pretty good movie but a pretty boring one overall like most of the other movies nominated this year. she was probably the best thing about the movie, and her character was way more interesting than her on screen husband's played by ralph fiennes, which is why she is getting academy attention and not him. still, she deserves the nomination, and since none of the other nominees are really spectacular or anything, maybe the win.
should win. . . well per the above requisite, this being the weakest category and all. i would go with the most surprising and entertaining performance of the nominees, amy adams in junebug. you have to go see this movie, only because she is so freakin adorable in it. (as a matter of fact, i need to buy this one. i wish i could watch it right now!)
should have been nominated. . . hands down, i think the best supporting actress performance of the year was given by gong li in memoirs of a geisha. as i have said before, this movie wasn't a great work of art. it was a melodramatic chick flick. but gong li was so good at being bad. i can't believe she wasn't nominated. the second best performance, i thought, and one that has been almost entirely ignored was taraji henson in hustle & flow. gawd she made my cry! others who could have been nominated are tilda swinton from the lion, the witch and the wardrobe, and thandie newton from crash.

other categories:
director. . . ang lee will win for bareback, although i can't imagine why. this movie was well acted, terribly written and HORRIBLY directed. once again, STRAIGHT PEOPLE SHOULDN'T MAKE MOVIES ABOUT GAY PEOPLE. who should win? paul haggis from crash of course.
original screenplay. . . this will probably be the only award crash wins, and of course it is the best written film of the year. i hoep paul haggis writes a dozen more films like crash and million dollar baby.
adapted screenplay. . . i can't even believe it but bareback will win this. i just saw that annie proux who wrote the original story has published the like 25 page text for 10$!!!! gawd what a freaking bourgeois pig. this movie is doing as much for gay literature as did the writers of the rosie o'donnell show. capote should win this, even though i don't really care.
song. . . i love all the songs nominated. the kathleen york song from crash is really pretty even though it is kinda boring. the rap theme to hustle & flow is the favorite to win, and i can't wait to see how the hell they are gonna sing it on national tv. still i wish dolly parton's song from the transamerica wins, just because i wanna see her acceptance speech.
documentary. . . it doesn't matter, because everyone knows that grizzly man is by far the best documentary of the year, but it wasn't nominated because of an asinine technicality.
03 March 2006
  my top 10 favorite movies of 2005

not that anyone cares (although they should) but the oscars are in two days and i think the academy pretty much got it all wrong. not that there aren't some good films and performances nominated, but there were a lot of good ones forgotten too. here is my list of the top 10 films of 2005.

1. crash. . . i pretty much said all i need to about this movie in my posts about it a couple of weeks ago, but this is the one movie of the past year that really impressed me. paul haggis wrote million dollar baby too and you will see a lot of that film in this one. crash is on dvd so you should definitely go rent it, especially if you are in the mood to watch something and then discuss it for hours afterward.

2. palindromes. . . megan if you haven't seen this, you definitely need to. todd solondz is probably my second fave filmmaker of all time after lars von trier. he did welcome to the dollhouse, happiness and storytelling, but palindromes might be my favorite. it is a CRAZY movie about a girl who has an abortion. the crazy thing is that the girl is played by like 10 different girls who appear in palindromic sequence. solondz does an amazing job of making a two hour film about abortion that takes neither a prolife or prochoice stance. that being said, this is one of the darkest comedies i have ever scene. but then again, that is solondz' specialty.

3. hustle & flow. . . i can't believe i liked this as much as i did. i only rented it because the star terrence howard is nominated for best actor. and i do like him, but i never expected to like this movie. first of all, i hate how hollywood movies almost never revolve around the antihero, a protagonist who also sort of doubles as an antagonist. djay in hustle & flow is a total antihero, and i definitely got into that. but also, i can't believe a movie about pimping sort of doubles as a movie about female empowerment. i could definitely see someone viewing this movie through a feminist lense. and the icing on the cake is taraji p. henson who is fucking amazing as shug.

4. the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. . . i knew i would like this movie as soon as i saw the trailer for it last summer. this has always been one of my favorite books and the movie amazingly lives up to the text. i was sort of worried that watching this book filmed would take away its magic, but the way they made it, i am still just as entranced with the textual as i am with the visual. and the absolutely most amazing thing according to imdb trivia is that they never used a single real lion in the filming. i think that is completely brilliant. (p.s. this is way way way better and should not be compared to the lord of the rings trilogy).

5. grizzly man. . . definitely not the most fun movie of the year but a good one nonetheless. after the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe, this was probably the movie i most looked forward to this year. i guess i wanted to see it because i like animals, but this is definitely not a discovery channel special. it is really a pretty deep character study of the deeply troubled environmentalist timothy treadwell. i don't know if i'll buy this on dvd because it kind of leaves you feeling really depressed. it is more of a movie you just want to try and forget. but it has lighter moments too. it is on dvd so you should rent it (and DON'T watch it on tv, because it is edited and you will miss all the substantive parts)

6. cinderella man. . . another surpise for me. i really don't like ron howard movies (they are a little too cheesy for my tastes). i don't love russell crowe or renee zellweger (although they are growing on me). and i am not a huge fan of sports movies (but of all sports movies, boxing ones are the best). still i left this movie totally bawling. it is a schmaltzy chick flick and i won't try to argue that it is deep and significant, but it was still really touching and i really enjoyed it. now i have to try to get john to watch it, and it won't be easy cuz he loses his attention if there aren't enough explosions or samuel l. jackson isn't shooting someone.

7. junebug. . . i wrote about this one a couple weeks ago too. amy adams IS this movie. if she wasn't in this, it would not be on this list for sure. she is going to be the next parker posey i am sure of it (wouldn't it be awesome to see her in a christopher guest movie!) i read someone describing this as meet the parents for the sundance crowd and, although i haven't seen meet the parents or anything, i do agree that this is a sort of indy family film, and it is maybe the first time i have seen that, or at least the first time i have seen it done this well.

8. rent. . . there are definitely some problems with this movie, but i really enjoyed it. (i haven't talked to megan about it. did you like it? i am curious). i wasn't sure if someone who hadn't seen the stage show would get this movie, but john watched it (twice!) and really liked it. i actually prepared myself not to enjoy this and was pleasantly surprised. i was even impressed with rosario dawson as mimi. the one criticism i had is that they took out some songs that i wish they could have found a way to keep in (for example, "christmas" and "contact") but in general i don't think they could have made it much better than they did. (p.s. you need to get the extended dvd and watch the deleted song "goodbye love." it is really great and they should have left it in).

9. corpse bride. . . well this is definitely not as good as the nightmare before christmas, but tim burton could make a dozen of these movies and i would never stop being amazed by how lifelike they can make plastic. sure some people criticized this movie as a little macabre and depressing, but really it isn't about the story, it is about the animation. maybe i wouldn't be so willing to forgive that, but with pixar's factory churning out one crappy piece of computer anime after another and disney no longer drawing any of its films, i think people are craving some visual stimulation.

10. pride & prejudice. . . i am not a huge fan of jane austen novels or movies, but this is definitely my favorite jane austen film i have ever seen. (still this is NOT as good as the bbc miniseries of pride & prejudice, but, since this is a movie, it shouldn't necessarily be compared to its predecessor). i can't decide if i love scarlett johanssen or keira knightley more. i can't wait til they do something together. in any case, this is a really beautiful film and it is really well acted. plus i love how they focused on the fact that this is a comedy. it definitely made me laugh throughout.
  isaac mizrahi is a prick: update

Here is an update on why isaac mizrahi sucks big time from cnn:

"Scarlett Johansson wasn't amused when fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi groped her on the red carpet at January's Golden Globe Awards, but she's willing to forgive him.
"It was definitely in poor taste," Johansson said in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. "I'd been prepping for two hours with hair and makeup and getting dressed. And the first interview I do, someone who I have never met before fondles me for his own satisfaction."
Mizrahi, who was doing pre-show interviews for the E! cable channel, created a flap when he groped Johansson's breast, asked Eva Longoria about her pubic hair and peeked down Teri Hatcher's dress.
"Mostly, I was thinking, 'Oh, my God. This is happening on live TV,"' Johansson recalled, adding she didn't buy the openly gay designer's explanation that he was trying to determine how her dress was put together.
"Like he doesn't know how a dress works," the 21-year-old actress said.
But the star of such films as "Match Point" and "Lost in Translation" said she isn't holding a grudge.
"I'm not mad at him," Johansson said. "I think he's a guy that's starting his TV career and he's making a bit of an exciting moment for himself. I can't be angry at him."
Mizrahi, who is scheduled to be on the red carpet at Sunday's Academy Awards, told The Associated Press last month he has no plans to tone down his act.
Johansson, who doesn't plan to attend the Oscar show, said she won't go out of her way to avoid him at future red carpet events.
"I can take care of myself," she said. "I'm from New York."

Luke and John talk about movies

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