innocent_man: (cookbook)
OK, so last night was the Oscars, but also lots of yummy food. We had eight people for dinner...well, eight people over for dinner. I had banked on 12. So where, you might ask, were the other four? Where indeed. I had one person cancel early in the week, OK, not a huge deal. But then three people cancelled the day of. No, sorry, one didn't even cancel, he just went out with his friends or something and didn't bother to tell Sarah that he wasn't coming, and then two others cancelled last-minute.

Sigh. I find it a little insulting, I really. Check out the spread, you'll see why.

Oh, wait, here's the menu:

  • War Horse - scones with jam and devonshire cream
  • Midnight in Paris - Old Fashioned (bourbon cocktail)
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - vegetable medley
  • Hugo - coq au vin
  • Moneyball - beer brats and sauerkraut
  • The Descendants - grilled mahi-mahi with pineapple
  • The Artist - cheese souffle
  • The Help - chocolate pie
  • The Tree of Life - angel food cake with candied strawberries and lemon basil creme anglaise.

Lots of pictures. )

And here's the spread:

See ya next year!
innocent_man: (buttons)
Amidst the general clamor of making foodstuff for Oscar dinner tonight, the kids visiting (they've been in Florida all week) and so on, I am finally finding time to do my annual Oscar post (if you feel like it, you could read the rest here with a little digging.

There are weak years and strong years. This year had a couple of really awesome movies, some that I felt were good but not exceptional, and a couple that were, in my humble, really overblown. Let's get to it!

Oh, and one thing: My predictions this year might be a little off the mark, because I haven't been paying attention to buzz. So let's see if I'm as good at predicting this as I think I am!

As always, I know haters gonna hate, but do it elsewhere. )
innocent_man: (r&g)
So last night we were supposed to play Leverage, but that didn't happen, so we wound up watching Midnight in Paris instead.

I'm not generally a huge Woody Allen fan. I've only seen his more recent movies, so maybe his older stuff is better, dunno. I really enjoyed Match Point, but it was nicely dark and British and stuff. I didn't like Vicky Christie Barcelona, because I think it's absurd that anyone could make a movie with that plot and not make it sexy, even by accident.

But Midnight in Paris is about time travel. Kind of.

Owen Wilson is engaged to Rachel McAdams, and they're aren't terribly happy - he wants to be a novelist and is falling love with Paris and his notion of the golden age (the 20s), while she's vapid, privileged, and thoroughly American (seriously, if I have a complaint about the movie it's that she and her family are utterly boring human beings with nothing to recommend them - a little more depth might have been nice). Wilson goes walking a night, a bit drunk, and just after midnight gets into a vintage car with some folks he doesn't know, and winds up in the 20s.

Wait, what?

Yeah. I had no idea going in that there was any kind of magical realism going on. The description for the movie from Netflix was something like "blah blah bittersweet romantic comedy blah blah Owen Wilson blah Woody Allen." I had no particular desire to see it based on that, but it's a best picture nomination. But then watching it, suddenly Wilson (who's nicely bland as our POV character - Michelle called him the "cracker" by which we we experience the "dip" that is the other characters) is transported into the 1920s and interacting with Gertrude Stein, Earnest Hemmingway, Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody, probably my favorite of the "past" roles) and the Fitzgeralds. And Wilson doesn't bother to conceal that he's from the future, but the only time he really talks about it is with Man Ray and Dali and Bunel, and, being surrealists, they just kind of take it in stride.

The movie is really about the Golden Age fallacy, the thought that things were so much better "back then." What's interesting about that, in the context of the Best Picture noms, is that all but two are set in the past (well, strictly speaking, they all are, but The Descendants and Moneyball are set in this century, at least), and they're set in the same periods - 1910-1920s and 1950s-1960s. It's easy to think that the directors here (who are, I think, mostly Boomers) are engaging in their own kind of escapism, and so I think the lesson of Midnight in Paris - every age has its glory, and it's best to love and live the one you're in, rather than trying to relive something you never really knew - is timely.

Anyway, I recommend it. One of my top three of the Best Picture noms.

Now, what dish should I make to represent it for our menu?

Points. )
innocent_man: (Default)
Movies that get Best Picture Nominations are not, despite occasional claims to the contrary, all cut from the same cloth. A quick perusal of the nine pictures nominated this year will tell you that - yes, several are dramas, but that's a big category, and the movie I'd call the front-runner (The Aritst) I don't think you can legitimately call a drama.

But yes, there is a tendency toward topics that will elicit reactions, and that leads to hard topics. Sickness, divorce, grief, war, tragedy - we watch movies about these topics because it's cathartic, I think. To say that I enjoy these movies is more or less accurate, but it's more a matter of appreciation than pure enjoyment. I get pure enjoyment from Demon Knight, but it doesn't make me feel much. I feel very strongly watching Children of Men, but I don't necessarily want to see it again.

Anyway, yesterday we saw Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Michelle had to leave; the experience was too much for her because the protagonist reminded her of her son. I really loved the movie, but it's not one I'd want to see again. I found myself getting tearful more than once.

Some of that is because I miss my dad. I feel like I was robbed of the last few years with him because of his illness. I'm sorry he never got to meet Michelle or Sarah, both of whom I think he would have loved. I'm sorry that Teagan didn't get to spend more quality time with him, though she remembers him fondly.

But really, there was one scene in the movie that got to me. In the movie, Oscar (Thomas Horn) is a boy who's pretty clearly on the spectrum somewhere. He's high functioning but pretty obsessive and very easily overstimulated. He's also incredibly bright. His father dies, and a year later he finds a key that he suspects might have been a clue his father meant to give him (his father would frequently set up such puzzles for him). His only clue is the word "Black" written on the envelope, so he maps out everyone in the city of New York with the surname "Black" and plans to visit them all to see if they know something about his father.

This is hard for him because of his disability, but he manages. But along the way he speaks to "the Renter" (a man living with his grandmother, who turns out to be his estranged grandfather, who presumably returned after his father died). He confesses what he's doing to the Renter, and the scene is hard to watch, because it's an autistic boy trying to make sense of a world that just doesn't. He's seeing loss and grief in everyone he meets, and he's developing an empathy that just doesn't come naturally to him. He feels trapped behind his own issues and his own desire to avoid letting his father's memory slip away.

What resonates, besides the loss of the father, is feeling trapped in one's own brain. One of the main reasons I decided some years ago that I was going to like to people, that I was going to try to be kind and attentive, is that I hated feeling trapped. I hated - I do hate - feeling like I don't get people and feeling like they're wrong, because they probably aren't. Usually it's something I'm just not getting, and I find that much more palatable - the notion that may be I just don't grok - than the feeling that the people I interact with are just doing everything wrong somehow.

We all live in our own heads. See from other people's perspectives is hard, because we aren't wired to do it. Some of us are better at it than others, but it's a skill you can cultivate. I try to do it every day. Sometimes I fuck it up. But watching someone on the extreme end of things try to reconcile that was hard to watch. But it was good. It's good to feel intensely. Leastways it is for me.

Oh, the father in the movie dies in 9/11. The movie gets accused to exploitation. I'm not sure I buy that. I think that if he had died in a car accident, it wouldn't have had the same weight in the story because the boy needs to be able to leverage cooperation from strangers, and I think that shared sense of loss helps. Likewise, say what you want about using 9/11 to tell stories, but the truth is it's the only event of its kind in recent American history. As a writer, I understand the need to use it, to put it in some kind of context in my own head, just so the world doesn't seem so wrong.

So it's the same thing again, really. Anyway, it's a good movie and I recommend it.

And points. )
innocent_man: (redwig)
Yesterday, Michelle and Sarah and I watched The Tree of Life, which is nominated for Best Picture, Best Editing and Best Directing. My reaction, in brief: WTF.

To let you know, the movie opens with bright light and whispered, existential questions. We then move into some footage of Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain as a married couple in the 50s in Texas, and then Sean Penn in modern day, and then back to the 50s, and then in space with life on Earth beginning, and then dinosaurs (no, seriously) and then back to Texas, and then their kids are tweens, and then a kid (not theirs) drowns, and then Sean Penn on a beach with lots of people from memories, and then the world ends.


No, actually, I get it. The movie is meant to be non-linear and have a lack of narrative, and I grok. I get that we're supposed to watch Pitt's character and his interaction with his sons as he grapples with wanting to be loving but also wanting to prepare them for the world, all the while dealing with his own issues, and how all of that affects his boy. I even get, kinda, how Sean Penn is looking back on all this (he's Brad Pitt's oldest son) and reflecting on the death of his brother (but we don't know which one) and how that's affecting him and his faith and everything. I get all that.

What I think, though, is that all the fruity editing and dinosaurs and space-footage did nothing for the movie except make it confusing. The story is simple, and that's fine. Iris was a simple story, told in traditional ways, and it was very moving. Ditto, say, Rabbit Hole. The Hours, less traditional, but still easy to follow. Ditto Blue Valentine. These are all human-condition drama. Oh, wait, couple more. In the Bedroom. 21 Grams. Some of these movies play with narrative and non-linear structure, but none of them get so downright pretentious about the story they're telling, and none of them inject fucking dinosaurs into the story for no apparent reason.

Meanwhile, the characters we're asked to care about never get names. They never say them. They rarely have dialog that matches what's happening onscreen. Nothing is ever really resolved, and just when a narrative thread starts, we cut to something fruity like the wife (Chastain) hovering in midair by a tree.

The movie is really, really pretty. The cinematography is beautiful, and it's not done with computers (not all of it, at least). But I feel about this movie kinda the way I do about Lost in Translation - it utterly fails to make me care about these people, because it jars me out of the story every few minutes. And it goes on forever.

I see a lot of positive reviews talking about how it's a moving experience. I don't think it is, it certainly wasn't for me. There's a lot of prayer in the movie, and there are references to the Book of Job. The story of Job moves me, but not in the way that a lot of people probably think it should. I hate the story of Job more than most other Biblical myths, because it showcases really well what an arrogant, jealous, evil jerk the god of the Bible is. And we see that, a little, in the movie, because what happens to Job is summed up (in a sermon) with a kind of, "Well, did you think misfortune wouldn't happen to you?" This ignores that "misfortune" is bad luck, and when an all-powerful being decides to fuck with you, deliberately, just to win a bet, that's not luck.

But I suspect the message we're going for here is something like "don't take it personally, because you're just one nano-nano-second in the scheme of things" or even the more prosaic "god moves in mysterious ways." To which I respond, great. Now, is there a way you could have put that across and made it entertaining to watch? Because the song about the universe at the end of Meaning of Life was a hell of lot more watchable.

If other folks have seen it and have good things to say, please, say them. Love to hear it.

Oh, and points. )
innocent_man: (Default)
Don't really have much to say, other than counting my points. Double feature today: The Artist and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I enjoyed The Artist much more; Dragon Tattoo felt really Americanized, and not in a good way. There were bits I liked, but the pacing was wonky. I want to see the Swedish version (don't say "the original," because that's not accurate - the American film was based on the novel, not on the Swedish film), but it'll probably have to wait until after Oscars are over.

Oh, and lesson learned: When I post updates to my curse the darkness blog, I need not to do it in the middle of the night. I don't get no hits that way. :)

Anyway, points. )
innocent_man: (drama)
Los Puntos. )

Tonight we went and saw War Horse, in preparation for the Oscars. I have to say, I wasn't too impressed.

It's a Spielberg war film, and we know he knows how to do a war film. So where is the blood? Why are we seeing the battles in the Somme with dudes just falling over when they get shot, and no hint of blood or any of the real nastiness of war? It just felt tepid.

And then there's this horse. I'm not a fan of animal movies, especially not with this backdrop, because as Edmund Blackadder said, "50,000 men getting killed a week, who's going to miss a pigeon?" (Or in this case, a horse.)

I did appreciate that they didn't make the Germans soulless monsters, though they did make them all speak English (because SUBTITTLES R HARRDD).

I dunno. It's getting less buzz now, but I'm kind of thinking, shit I hope it gets nominated for something, 'cause I went and saw it and everything.
innocent_man: (cookbook)
Food makes me happier than politics, but I may post about that separately.

OK, first off: Oscars. Oscar night (I blogged about my predictions here, and I was 8/10 - missed Director and Cinematography). For every nomination for best picture, we decided we'd make a dish. Our rough idea:

  • Social Network - appletinis
  • Winter's Bone - originally marrow bones, but then I decided that paired with the next dish that'd be too much meat, so we decided on a winter salad
  • The Fighter - steak tartare
  • The Kids Are All Right - originally a salad, but then we decided we wanted a hot veggie and went with artichoke, which is kind of reminiscent of California
  • 127 Hours - squash (get it?)
  • True Grit - smashed taters (we had talked about making red eye gravy, but we cut that for time)
  • The King's Speech - crown roast of pork
  • Black Swan - some kind of poultry with a black sauce and a white sauce
  • Inception - parfaits with orange curd and chocolate curd
  • Toy Story 3 - cupcakes (which I left to Heather, the pastrymancer)

Ambitious, no? We decided that the "black sauce" for Black Swan would be a mole. I'd been wanting to make one anyway, and this would be a good excuse. We found a recipe, tweaked it slightly (Michelle can't handle peanuts) and got to work. I cut, for I am merciful. )

So after we made the mole, which took most of Saturday, we made our curds for the parfaits because those could sit overnight. Again, cut. )

So then the next day, we really started cooking in earnest! Check it out! )

Oh, and some deer came to nibble on our tree while we were cooking. We didn't eat them. Moving on. )

And here's the spread!
innocent_man: (Default)
[ profile] anaka is posting the menu for tonight on her LJ. I'll be posting food photos...probably tomorrow. But for today - movie time!

As you might know, this is the eighth time I've done this Oscar post. I'm generally at least 80% with my predictions, but then I generally pay more attention to the buzz leading up to the awards show. My buddy [ profile] arkhamhorror tells me that most of the races are forgone conclusions this year, so I'm likely to be either entirely right or mostly wrong.

But regardless! Last year was the switch to 10 movies nominated for Best Picture, and it changes the race. For one thing, we get films that wouldn't otherwise get nominated - this year, as last year. Frankly, I think it's good - more slots in that category means more exposure for movies that are awesome, but aren't usual Oscar fare. For instance, I think that if we'd had 10 Best Picture noms for the 2009 awards, The Dark Knight definitely would have gotten a nom.

Anyway, here we go! )


Mar. 7th, 2010 07:39 pm
innocent_man: (goblin)
Two pictures for ya.

First, my semi-annual picture of Sephi in the snow:

And, the yummy cake I made for dessert tonight during Oscars:

That's all. :)
innocent_man: (bender)
Well, as for the past six years, just before the Academy Awards show I make this big honkin' post about who I think should and/or is going to win. And usually, I put in a request that if you're a hater, you hate on the Oscars elsewhere, because I love 'em and that hate ain't welcome here.

But this year, I feel the need to link to a site I really enjoy and point out this video on If you don't want to click it, it's "A Trailer for Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever", and it's actually very funny, and you should watch it. I am going to carry on typing as though you have, in fact.

OK, I get the joke. I'm an Oscar junkie, and so the fact that heavy dramas tend to win is not lost on me. But the video is deliberately lampooning movies in a particular style, and although the video certainly has a point, I have two quibbles.

First of all, y'know, if you cast a wide enough net, everything is a fish (you can feel free to start saying that and attribute it to Mark Twain). Yeah, this is the trailer for all the winners...except that they're grabbing, what, five or six different kinds of movies there? And yes, they're all the kind of thing that the Academy generally nominates, but to me there's a pretty big difference between, say Dances With Wolves-style movies and Rain Man-style movies.

Second, watch your goddamned superlatives. Every Winner Ever? Really? Let's have shufty at that.

Where in that trailer do you see Slumdog Millionaire? How about No Country for Old Men? I see The Departed, a little, definitely Crash and Million Dollar Baby (in a very general sense), but not Lord of the Rings or Chicago. To me, the movie they're advertising in that trailer is, for the most part, the movies that either get nominated for Best Picture but don't win, or star actors that have already won their Oscars and are using that star power to prop up an otherwise workaday drama. And that's not what the Academy has chosen as Best Picture for (hang on) let's say at least seven years (A Beautiful Mind was kinda that kind of movie; maybe Crash, though it was such an ensemble piece that it's hard to see it fitting into that mold. And I still think Brokeback Mountain got robbed).

All I'm saying is, there are some truly awesome movies that have won Oscars. And there have been some that shouldn't have been nominated. And what we have to remember is that there is no "Oscar" out there choosing the winners, there's just the Academy, which is made up of people in the profession. It would be like an award in gaming chosen by people in the gaming industry. Hell, you'd probably see some blatant politicking, some games that shouldn't even be eligible winning...

Ahem. Moving on. Tomorrow I shall watch the Award show, having a yummy dinner of coffee-marinated steak and goat-cheese mashed taters, and then stumble into work on Monday bleary-eyed as all hell, but hey. That's showbiz.

Grab ya popcorn. )


Feb. 22nd, 2009 04:56 pm
innocent_man: (r&g)
Well, here we go again. This, by the way, makes the sixth Oscar post I've made. I'm usually at least better than 50/50 with my predictions; one year I was 9/10 (I don't do all the categories.

Right, so it's already 5PM and this takes me a while, so let's get to it!

Oh, and I say this every year, but every time I don't say it, someone feels the need to prove that I still need to say it: I know that there are folks who don't give a shit about the Oscars. I know that there are folks who feel they're too political, that crap movies get nominated, that the whole process is whacked, whatever. I respect your feelings. I do. But I like seeing the nominated movies, I like making these posts and watching the awards show, I think that bad movies don't (or rarely) get nominated, and this is my journal. So, discuss, disagree, dispute, and so on, but if all you've got to say is "the Oscars suck," go say it somewhere else, yeah? :)

Cut for those who don't care. )
innocent_man: (noir)
Oscar week, y'know, and we watched Wanted the other night. The first third or so was pretty, if not especially compelling. And then, by the end, we had descended into such self-entitled wankery that I couldn't wait to turn it off. For me to say that about an action movie is significant, because usually I couldn't give a shit about things like that as long as the action scenes are good (witness: I love Equilibrium, even though it makes no goddamn sense).

This movie, though, wasn't even good popcorn. The violence was gratuitous. The plot was soup. And you only get one, too-brief shot of Angelina Jolie's ass.

No, seriously, my complaint about her was that she was a waste of money. She brought nothing interesting to the role because the role was fluff. They should have gotten some new, fresh-off-the-bus actress to do the role. Instead, they stocked the movie with talented sucked.

Ah, well. It was nominated for the right categories.

And now, Edge of Midnight! )
innocent_man: (slimshady)
Yep, it's that special night again, the night in which I spend a long time writing this post about movies, and then go watch a really long award show and find out if I have PSYCHIC POWERS!

(Answer: I don't. But I do sometimes make educated guesses.)

Anyway, last year. I did OK on those predictions. Let's see how we do this year.

OK, first off: Wow. Some good movies this year, but man, a lot of murder and mayhem. I mean, Oscar films are usually dramas, and there's little as dramatic as a juicy murder, yeah, but between Sweeny Todd, No Country For Old Men and Eastern Promises...and that's just three. There will, indeed, be blood.

And that's fine, but I always like to look for the zeitgeist of the times, here. The writer's strike just ended, so I'm wondering how that'll affect the humor tonight. Three years ago, Moore got booed for shaming Bush during his acceptance speech. Tonight? Wonder what he'll say if he wins for Sicko (which I haven't seen), and how the audience will react.

Anyway, on to the predictions. And then, delicious beef roast, taters, and company of [ profile] hot493 and [ profile] rook330. We so rarely have company during the Oscars, after all. Promise we won't make you into pies or anything.

It's long. Hence the cut. Also, spoilers for various movies. )
innocent_man: (Default)
I do one of these every year. They're long as hell, contain lots of links, always have to be edited because I miss out a bit of code somewhere, and take me forever.

But I do 'em because I'm a film buff. Well, anyway, I like movies and I like the Oscars. I've explained why in the past, and because it bears repeating, I'm well aware that there's a popular feeling out there that Oscar-winning movies suck, that the Academy awards schmaltz, and that tearjerkers take home the gold.

Well, to the first: Opinions, assholes, etc. The only Best Picture-nommed film that I would describe as "sucking" was this snooze-fest (last time I'll mention it in this post, I promise), but opinions on it vary. The Academy does indeed award schmaltz, at times, but they also award movies that mean something, occasionally. "The Academy" is people (like Soylent Green, only not as tasty), and who knows why people do anything? Apart from the Shadow.

So, anyway, I'm going to list out my choices and predictions for 10 of the categories, and then go enter [ profile] oscar_contest, and then, if I've got time, go work on Autumn Nightmares some more. Ready?

To the flickatorium! )
innocent_man: (Default)
I didn't really start getting interested in the Academy Awards until about 1999. That was a good show; I'm not a big Billy Crystal fan, but he did a good job hosting, I enjoyed the movies that were nominated (that was the year American Beauty won Best Picture), and it was just kinda cool. Since then, I've made the attempt to see all of the movies in as many categories as possible. I don't usually bother with short films and documentaries, and I don't often get to the see the Foreign Language Film nominees, but I see the Best Actor, Best Director, etc.

Well, the awards show is tomorrow night, so herein I shall post my thoughts, predictions and personal picks for 11 of the films. I'll say right up front that the races are harder to call this year than last year, because the movies are generally better. Also, this post is just my opinion of movies, so don't get all whiny if I diss your favorite movie or express admiration for someone you don't like (feel free to argue, though).

Also, because it bears repeating: I love movies, and I love the Oscars. If you're an Oscar-hater, there are probably communities for you. Just sayin'.

Cut for length and spoilers. )
innocent_man: (Default)
George C. Scott called it a "meat parade." Chris Rock says that only gay black men watch it and thinks that award shows are BS (he's hosting, though, so what's that make him? Oh, right, a hypocrit). I'd love to make some snide comment about Hollywood and its ongoing celebration of emotionally manipulative movies and overpriced popcorn...but I'm too much a movie goob.

So, here are my thoughts and predictions for the Oscar categories that really interest me, minus Cinematography (it interests me, but I wasn't able to see enough of the nominees to make any kind of intelligent statement).

Assload of spoilers. )
innocent_man: (Default)
So, tonight's the Oscars. As promised, my predictions and choices for a few categories:

Best Actor: Damned strong performances this year. All standout acting jobs, from actors with strong scripts (Mystic River), not-as-strong scripts (Cold Mountain) and fucking weak scripts (Lost in Translation). Plus, Johnny Depp got a nod for Pirates of the Caribbean which, while it probably won't win, is kick-ass. I love it when comic performances - which, lemme tell you, are harder to pull off convincingly than drama - get their props. I think that the real race is between Bill Murray and Sean Penn; Ben Kingsley and Jude Law both gave great performances but I think there's been enough (undeserved) buzz about Lost in Translation that Bill's a strong contender (plus, he apparently got robbed for Rushmore, which I haven't seen and so can't comment on) and Sean's acting in Mystic River was, IMO, deserving of the Oscar.
My choice: Johnny Depp all the way, baby. Arr!
My prediction: Sean Penn

Best Supporting Actor: Not as strong all-around. Don't get me wrong; both Djimon Hounsou (In America) and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) did well in their roles, but they were entirely overshadowed by Tim Robbins (Mystic River). Benicio del Toro also gave a superb performance in 21 Grams, but he just won recently for Traffic, and so I think the Academy will feel he's already got his props. If I were voting, however, I'd be very torn between Robbins and Alec Baldwin (The Cooler). I've seen Baldwin do dramatic, even threatening, roles before, but this time he really nailed it.
My choice: Like I said, torn between Robbins and Baldwin, so I'll go with the bad guy and say Baldwin.
My prediction: Tim Robbins, which is fine by me

Best Actress: Wow, the roles and the actresses really run the gamut this year. We've got Diane Keaton on one end of the age spectrum (Something's Gotta Give) and Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) on the other. We've got Naomi Watts snortin' coke and snogging with Sean Penn in 21 Grams and Samantha Morton being fuzzy-headed and Irish in In America. And then there's Charlize Well, let's pare 'em down. Hughes isn't going to get it. She's too young, and it's easy to assume that child actors are just playing themselves (which, after watching the featurettes on Whale Rider, I must concede is a possibility, not that that means the movie and her performance weren't great). I think that Watts and Morton both did well (Watts much more than Morton, but then she had a much more interesting role), but I think that in the end, the race is between Theron (who turned in a fucking incredible performance in Monster; you barely recognize her, and it's not just the makeup, people) and Keaton (Hollywood vet, funny role, snogging with Jack Nicholson and Kenunu). By the way, I think the marketing for Something's Gotta Give was a little misleading; the movie is about Keaton, not Jack. Anyway, it's a close thing.
My choice: Charlize Theron. Much more demanding role, and it's nice to see her real acting chops.
My prediction: Charlize Theron. It might go to Keaton, but that's gonna depend on whimsy and politics.

Best Supporting Actress: Man, I never know how to call this one. OK, let's eliminate Patricia Clarkson right off the bat (Pieces of April); it was a good role for her, but not nearly as interesting or challenging as some of the other nominees'. Renee Zellweger, who's been a favorite of mine since Empire Records, hasn't won yet (though she's been nominated a couple of times), and she certainly turned in the quirkiest performance of the category (which might translate to "most memorable"). Holly Hunter and Marcia Gay Harden both had decent dramatic roles (Thirteen and Mystic River, respectively), but actually, I think Laura Linney should've been the one nominated from that latter pic. And then there's Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog); certainly a great performance, interesting and challenging role, plus she's Iranian. I mention that because a magazine mentioned that it would be an interesting time to make history by giving an Arab actress the Oscar. So we'll see.
My choice: Gotta go with Renee Zellweger. Yes, it's the crowd-pleaser of the category, but I really enjoyed her in Cold Mountain.
My prediction: Marcia Gay Harden

Animated Feature: OK, disclosure. Only seen two of these, The Triplets of Belleville and Finding Nemo. I missed Brother Bear. That said, I don't think it's much of a contest. As enjoyable as The Triplets of Belleville was - very weird, saturated with detail and some frickin' cool animation - I think our favorite fish story has it sewn up.
My choice and prediction: Finding Nemo

Best Director:: OK, well, we'll discount Sofia Coppolla right now. Not because I don't think she's got a chance, but because I don't want to admit it. Likewise, Peter Weir (Master and Commander) probably won't get this nod, though I think the film's a strong and deserving contender in the Cinematography category. Clint Eastwood (Mystic River) and Fernando Meirelles (City of God) both created superb movies, but come on. He got snubbed for Fellowship. He'd better get his props here for Return of the King.
My choice and prediction: Peter Jackson

Best Adapted Screenplay: I'm in the unfortunate position here of never having read any of the original works these screenplays are based upon (no, not even Tolkein). I'm therefore kinda firing blind, because I don't know how the Academy judges this category. I know that rather large liberties were taken with Seabiscuit, and I also know that Harvey Pekar was pretty intimately involved with American Splendor. As a side note, that last doesn't get my vote because I dislike cynics, and movies about a guy basically whining about his not-entirely-unpleasant life don't really do it for me (granted, he did get cancer in a rather unpleasant location, but the whining starts off when he's a kid, goes trick-or-treating and the lady upon whose door he knocks is confused when he's not wearing a costume. His reponse: "People are stupid."). Anyway, I don't have much else to say in this category.
My choice: Mystic River
My prediction: Seabiscuit, because I think they'll want it to win something

Best Original Screenplay: And here, I'm even more uninformed, because I never got to see Dirty Pretty Things or The Barbarian Invasions. So, of the three remaining films, we've got one that I really disliked, one that I loved, and one that I thought was a good story but that doesn't have a lot of re-watch value. (That'd be Lost in Translation, Finding Nemo, and In America, respectively.) Ignoring Sofia Coppolla's "look how artistic I am!" fiasco, I think that In America is a decent script, but that it wanders in places. Thus, with my woefully incomplete knowledge of the category:
My Choice: Finding Nemo
My Prediction: Lost in Translation. I hate to say it, but I think they'll feel obligated to let this snooze-fest win for something.

Best Picture: Well, everything's subjective, of course. I happen to feel that there really aren't a lot of truly strong films in this category this time around. In fact, I count two: Return of the King and Mystic River. I think that of the others, Master and Commander had some great effects and one standout performance (Paul Bettany's), Seabiscuit was a feel-good film but a long story (and thus the film felt rushed in places), and Lost in Translation is a complete failure in storytelling (since there wasn't a story being told). Of the two remaining, I have to go with heroism, fellowship, love and triumph over evil, and I think that the Academy will vote that way, too (only they'll do it because they're voting for all three movies in the trilogy, but whatever works).
My choice and prediction: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

We'll see how right I am in a few hours.


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