Cinecast Episode 382 – Warm and Foreign


The one in which Kurt doesn’t realize he’s the winner of a (much controversial) bet. In exchange, buys Andrew a present for his sunken heart after The Oscar results. We dive headlong into The Academy Awards with all its ins and outs and what-have-yous with Neil Patrick Harris and the face touching and the boring music and the severe lack of montages and the… hey hey hey don’t hurt me. We do recognize Julianne Moore as a favorite however, and we praise her Oscar win with a heartfelt review of the quite good, Still Alice. The Watch List rattles on with pro wrestling, Cronenberg, submarine movies are always awesome and… Aeon Flux? Yeah.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



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Cinecast Episode 295 – I Wouldn’t Wear That. Even in the Future!

This week sees a return to form with all sorts of negativity and disagreement. But [in best DeForest Kelley voice] for God sake man, it’s Anne Hathaway. She’s worth fighting for! Outside of that little tussle, Sean Kelly from joins in on the discussion with a bit more of a unique Oscar experience having seen the whole thing in a packed theater. For the majority of this Cinecast it is a look back at Sunday nights Hollywood back-patting at the Academy Awards. We talk about it all: from winners to losers to hosting to gowns (OK, not really) to stage direction to orchestration. Look no further; it’s all in here. From there we venture into the Watch List with Kurt proving Matt Gamble’s prognostication mostly correct with a viewing of Margaret. We grind the axe a bit more (though less enthusiastically) about modern biblical epics while Sean looks at a couple of Oscar-nominated documentaries and Andrew continues his Star Treking.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

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Rank ‘Em: Academy Award Best Picture Winners

I know Kurt promised last week we were done with all the Academy Award related stuff, but I was already working on this, which took me longer than I’d hoped to finish. But then, this is by far the most epic and most difficult Rank ‘Em I have ever attempted. Not only are there a great many more Best Picture winners than there usually are films in an individual director or actor’s filmography (on average; of course there are prolific exceptions), but they’re also extremely diverse. We’re not dealing with the specific themes, genres or stylistics that a single director or actor tends to work with, nor even the limited amount of time that usually constrains a director or actor’s output, but with 84 years of cinema history going back to the silent era. I didn’t even attempt to rank these in “best” order – this is not a ranked list of the objectively best films to ever take the Academy’s top prize, but instead a personally biased ranking of Best Picture winners according to my own preferences. In fact, while making the list, I wasn’t even thinking “which of these films deserved to win Best Picture the most,” but simply, “which of these films do I like the most.” Some things are going to be surprisingly high, others surprisingly low. Feel free to quarrel with my placements, and even with my memory – some of these films I saw long ago. But enjoy it for what it is – a largely arbitrary list honoring what is a largely arbitrary award.

I’ve split the post up into pages to mitigate load times a bit. Continue clicking through to get to my favorites. Also, there’s a handful of Best Picture winners I have not seen yet: All the King’s Men (1949), Marty (1955), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), A Man for All Seasons (1966), Rocky (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Ordinary People (1980), Terms of Endearment (1983), Platoon (1986), The Last Emperor (1987), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and A Beautiful Mind (2001). So they won’t be included on the ranked list. The listings of my favorite films are just that, purely my favorites, with no thought as to whether they could’ve actually won the award or not (i.e., no American or prestige bias). The bolded nominee is the one of THOSE films I like the best; if none are bolded, I would’ve gone with the Academy choice – based on that set of nominees (or I haven’t seen enough of the other nominees to vote, which is the case with some of the earliest years).

“Did it deserve to win” legend:
Yes = the right film won the award this year
Sure = I might’ve liked another film this year better, but this is an excellent choice
Maybe = I won’t argue with it winning, either because it’s pretty solid or I like it personally
Not really = it’s not the worst choice, but it doesn’t really deserve it
No = a different film absolutely should’ve won this year

#72: Crash (2005)

If you know me at all, you’ll know the abiding hatred I have for Crash. In fact, a lengthy thread about this movie is even to blame for my presence at Row Three. What was initially just disappointment and dislike moved to hatred after the film gathered critical acclaim and eventually an Oscar win – in my opinion, the most egregiously misplaced Oscar win in the history of the Oscars, and not even because I was passionate about another film in the race. I’m not a particular Brokeback Mountain fan, either, as were most people who thought Crash should’ve lost. No, I just dislike this film that much. It’s well-made enough, I guess, but it’s so manipulative and heavy-handed in getting across a message that we all know, whether or not we necessarily put it into practice. Racism is still a problem, I realize this. Telling me racism is still a problem in the didactic and condescending way that this movie adopts is not effective. There, now that this one is out of the way, pretty much all the rest of the low-ranking films aren’t films I dislike, just ones that are unmemorable or unremarkable.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich
My favorite film that year: Brick

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Oscar Bookmaking *FINAL UPDATE*

We have been a tad sparse on Oscar talk this year here in the third Row. The Mamo boys cover this beat in postcast form better than we do in text and picture posts and there will likely (Yo! Marina!) be a live-feed during the event itself – not so much for the information-sharing of awards themselves, but for the snark and catty-ness that inevitably creeps into the conversation when Oscars are being broadcast live. There is something about the current slate of nominations that fails to get passions running hot this year, even if the so-called front-runner – the silent crowd-pleaser from France, The Artist – is actually a solid bit of film-making.

But you know how to spice things up?

I know a lot of you are in Oscar Pools and other ‘Agreements Between Gentlemen.’ Enter Mike The Greek, who is helping you play the odds (and offering free cookies, a BluRay Player and 10 shiny BLU discs if you beat his picks.) He has been running down the list of nominees in his particular idiom all this week – from long shots to mortal locks, and the first two entries are embedded below. Thanks again to the fine purveyors of humour and video over at The Substream and the impeccable aesthetics of Mike’s wardrobe.

*LAST UPDATE* – Day 3 (below) has Mike breaking down the Visual Effects Category in a historical context like a Mensa savant. Day 4 (below) has Mike schooling us on Make-up, “Respect the Waddle!” He also says “Vis-à-vis” all smart-like. Day 5 (below) has Mike breaking out charts, statistical analysis, dream regression and W.O.A.M-iness. No worries, The Greek makes it all make sense, and hopefully, dollars and cents.

Day 1: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Documentary, Best Editing, Best Cinematography

Day 2: Best Animated Film, Best Supporting Actor/Actress, Best Foreign Language Film.

Day 3: Best Live Action Short, Best Art Direction, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects:

Day 4: Best Original Song, Best Make-up, Best Original Score, Best Adapted and Original Screenplay

Day 5: Best Film, Best Director

Cinecast Episode 202 – Obviously You’re Not a Golfer


It is a cornucopia, a smörgåsbord, a veritable potpourri of cinema, as the Cinecast regulars get together with nothing on the agenda other than to talk about what they have watched, in the cinema, on the DVD and streamed from the internet or (in an exciting technology development, from the Computer Hard Drive.) Andrew continues to dig into the Foreign Language Nominees with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful. Kurt comes at Oscar a different way with the new documentary on the man with the midas touch when it comes to little gold men, Harvey Weinstein. And Gamble talks best animated film of 2011 with a preview of the flat out awesome Gore Verbinski/Nickelodeon/Industrial-Light-And-Magic Johnny Depp western, Rango. From there, we go from the occult, to Penelope Cruz DTV failures, to two vastly different takes time travel from the 1980s to Chinese shopping malls. Then it is onto Romans wandering about Scotland, Aussie crime dynasties and suburban teenage prostitution rings! It is all a part of your complete breakfast.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



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Oscar Hosts 2011: Hathaway and Franco. Yay!

Though I get less and less excited for the Oscars with each passing year I still find myself discussing the awards show incessantly and always look forward to nominees and announcements surrounding the show. At the very least it’s fun to bash this or that about the actual production of the Awards Ceremony the next day. Almost universally the main topic is how well did the host(s) do with keeping everything fun, fresh and moving along.

This year we’ll be treated to two young hosts dazzling us with their stage presence: James Franco and the quite fetching Anne Hathaway. Both seem to be reaching quite a high point in their careers and both are uber charismatic, charming and easy on the eyes. Both have appeared on the telecast before (not as hosts) and I remember quite fondly Hathaway’s singing and dancing with host Hugh Jackman a couple of years back – to quite positive reviews if I remember correctly.

So I think this is quite an excellent choice the more I think about it. They’re both funny, quirky, goofy, at times quite odd and extremely talented people, they should get the young crowd interested in watching and having two hosts rather than one (as it was last year with Martin and Baldwin) should give opportunity for some light banter and go between. To the best of my knowledge, the two haven’t worked together in a feature film before, but they strike me as a couple that will instantly hit it off with chemistry and pizzaz.

But I think an interesting question is how will this play in to their potential as being nominees (especially Franco) in the same year they are hosting? Will it hurt their chances? Does it matter? Will it be awkward on stage or will they use that angle to their comedic advantage? Should be fun!

So is this is a good fit for the always evolving Oscars or should they just have gone back and gotten Billy Crystal to host again?

Thanks for the heads up Kurt, [via]

Shorts Program: Animated Oscar Edition

Thanks to the magic of the internets, I was able to locate and watch all of the animated shorts up for an Academy Award come Sunday, and there’s some great stuff here. I’m honestly not sure how to pick which one I like best. You’ve got everything from another great entry in the Wallace and Gromit series to the jaw-dropping virtuoso trademark-ripping-off of Logorama, and other more conventional but still excellent shorts in between.

I’ve embedded them all after the jump, so take a look and let us know what you think.

(Unfortunately, I was not as successful at locating the live-action shorts; most of them only have trailers available online, if that.)

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Cameron’s Leaked Oscar Acceptance Speech

An eternity ago when Cameron won the best picture/director Oscar for his titanic Titanic, we proclaimed he was the king of the world. Going down in Oscar history as quite the prolific and some might argue, pompous, acceptance speeches of all time, Cameron has sat down and prepped out what he’s going to say on the big stage “when” he wins again this year for the even more titanic, Avatar. Luckily, Vanity Fair stole a copy of Cameron’s notes for that upcoming speech and has shared it with the world…

read the final 3 (yes, 3) pages that I’ve tacked up under the seats:
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15th Annual Critics Choice Awards Winners

One might presume that the more prestigious (at least in name rcognition) Golden Globes are the precursos to the Oscars to which everyone should look at before checking off boxes on their Oscar ballot. Not so fast, the group of almost 200 critics from the Broadcast Critics Association have predicted the winners of the Oscar every year for the past ten years but 2004 and 2005. If there’s any doubt now that The Hurt Locker is pretty much a lock for best picture as is Kathryn Bigelow for best director, they are fading fast. In fact, not that it’s any surprise, but this is one of the first year’s I can remember in which just about every one of the six major categories are all pretty much locks – as proved here by the Critics. The tie for lead actress is a little bit weird, but I”m sure the Academy will hash it out.

Box office success (i.e. fan favorites) were also high on the evening’s priorities, with The Hangover taking home best comedy, Up walking away with best animated film, and Avatar continuing its rule of Hollywood with a record-breaking six awards, including best action film and a slew of tech honors, including best visual effects and sound.

Check out the full list below. Is this just about en exact duplicate of what we’ll see at The Kodak Theatre on March 7th?

Avatar, An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up, Up In The Air

Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
George Clooney – Up In The Air
Colin Firth – A Single Man
Morgan Freeman – Invictus
Viggo Mortensen – The Road
Jeremy Renner – The Hurt Locker

Emily Blunt – The Young Victoria
Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side
Carey Mulligan – An Education
Saoirse Ronan – The Lovely Bones
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia

Matt Damon – Invictus
Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
Christian McKay – Me And Orson Welles
Alfred Molina – An Education
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

Marion Cotillard – Nine
Vera Farmiga – Up In The Air
Anna Kendrick – Up In The Air
Mo’Nique – Precious
Julianne Moore – A Single Man
Samantha Morton – The Messenger

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Oscar Nomination Extravaganza – Contest!



There’s still time to get into the the drawing for an Inglourious Basterds DVD, but let’s not stop the contests there!

In 2010 for the first time in decades, there will be ten Academy Award nominations for Best Picture instead of just five. What exactly this will mean is yet to be determined. Will it encourage the Academy to include more offbeat, indie, and maybe even foreign films in the category? Or will it provide an opportunity for the top-level summer blockbusters to get a shot at major awards? Could we possibly see movies like Star Trek and Antichrist both nominated this year?

Thanks to Goon, who came up with this idea as a Row Three Challenge a couple of weeks ago, here’s your chance to guess! Which ten films from 2009 do you think will end up with the Oscar nominations come February? Remember, to be eligible, the films have to have had a theatrical release in the United States during 2009. Post your guesses in the comments section and we’ll tally them all up after the nominations are announced. Whoever has the most correct will receive a yet–to-be-determined prize pack, probably a DVD. We’ll let you know what the prize will be closer to the February nomination announcement. Sorry, contributors, you can play, but only for the glory.

We’d like to have all entries in before the Golden Globe nominations are announced on December 15th (because Golden Globes tend to be too good a predictor of the Oscars), so you’ve got about five days to come up with your picks and post them in a comment here. I’d also like to note that for the first time ever, there will be five nominations in the Animated Feature category, so please include five guesses for those nominations as well. We will use those guesses as a tie-breaker.

After the cut, a few possibilities to get you thinking (courtesy of Goon and Rusty, thanks for getting us started!). Feel free to throw in any others as well, of course – this is just a starter list.

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Bookmarks for November 20th

What we’ve been reading over the past week or so.

  • For Your Consideration: 25 Things The Academy Got Right In The 2000s
    As hard as it is for those prone to bitching about the Academy to admit, they don’t always get it wrong. In fact, it was surprisingly easy to find twenty-five examples of where they most certainly got it right (though mind you, it was even easier finding fifty things they got wrong). So for what it’s worth, here are my picks in descending order for your anticipatory pleasure. Unlike the 50 snubs, I opened to up to all categories, since, again, there wasn’t quite the plethora of options.
  • REEL TRUTH: Why Women Should Stay Away from Twilight
    Twilight was never supposed to get this big. It looked like it was simply meant to be a high brow straight to DVD film. Instead it turned the media world into complete chaos and because of that, females of many different ages fell into the beautiful lies Twilight created to make us believe about Bella and Edward’s intense karmic connection. Funny how so many women avoid or are completely unaware of the many flaws and bullsh*t they eat up from the series, but today is the day I am going to attempt to open their eyes to see how using Twilight as a guide book/film to dating will only bring disappointment to your love life.
  • David Lynch on Going to India to Shoot His Next Movie
    During his downtime, Lynch is working to bring meditation into schools worldwide. Vulture caught up with Lynch at the Russian Tea Room on Sunday, before his scheduled speaking engagement with the Hudson Union Society, to discuss his favorite directors, the importance of final cut, and how his next film project will take him to India.
  • Film features: The Story Behind Fight Club
    Reese Witherspoon, Sean Penn and Courtney Love might’ve starred in Fight Club? I think we’re all glad that it ended up the way it did. Here is how David Fincher brought this iconic film to realization.
  • Fantastic Planet (La planète sauvage, 1973)/De Profundis (2007) (Ferdy on Films, etc.)
    Marilyn Ferdinand looks at two unusually artistic (in the sense of looking like paintings) animated films, arguing for the continuation of this art form and its peculiar emotional pull in the face of modern computer animation.
  • Sundance Film Festival Unveils 2010 New Frontier Lineup
    In the first of its announcements for its upcoming 2010 program, Sundance Institute revealed Wednesday the selection of 13 artists from six countries whose works will be presented as part of the New Frontier sidebar at Sundance Film Festival. A collection of digital art, film screenings, multimedia performances, site-specific installations and video presentations will take part in what organizers promise to be “a fully immersive media lounge” for festival goers to experience throughout the event.
  • Up and Up!
    Last week, Disney/Pixar released to the home-viewing market Up, their CGI-animated colorfest that just happens to share a name with a 1976 fuckfest by Russ Meyer (the latter adds an exclamation mark just to convey how excited it is to exist). It would seem that an animated film about a man who saves his life from the shadows of the twilight years by attaching thousands of balloons to his house, sailing to a far-off land and saving a rare bird species from exploitation has little in common with a who-killed-Hitler murder mystery that’s a thinly veiled excuse to showcase people having (softcore but graphic) simulated sex while Kitten Natividad narrates it all as the one-woman Greek chorus. However, there are more similarities than you might think.
  • Only Eight of This Decade’s Best Picture Nominees Are Original
    You would think that there would be a huge divide between the most profitable and the most critically acclaimed films of this decade, right? You would think that while mainstream America flocks to established properties, the Academy of Motion Pictures would lean more towards rewarding originality. Not So… /Film commenter Keith points out that only 8 of the 45 Academy Award Best Picture nominees of this decade (so far) are originals.
  • ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans’ Producers Want It To Spawn A Franchise
    Producers Alan and Gabe Polsky hope to continue the “Bad Lieutenant” name as an ongoing franchise. Given the successful collaboration of Herzog and Cage, and before them Ferrara and Keitel, the Polskys admit they’d like to go further with other “interesting combos” for more stand-alone “Bad Lieutenant” installments. They specifically propose the director/actor team-ups of Darren Aronofsky and Brad Pitt and Michel Gondry and Bill Murray, which both sound like great ideas.
  • Top 10 Bad Messages From Good Movies
    Sometimes it can be hard to see the messages a movie teaches, especially if they’re unintentional. The best way to see a movie’s messages, and bad ones in particular, is to be a parent watching the movie with your kids. Suddenly you find yourself talking to your kids after you leave the theater or after the video finishes playing at home, just to see if they picked up on the bad messages. Then, if they did, you can try to do some damage control.
  • Bad Boys Grow Up
    Tarantino and Almodóvar finally make films equal to the ones they’ve always claimed as inspirations. Tarantino came to be regarded as a hyped-up pop culture junkie spritzing bloodshed and movie references in equal measure. And Almodóvar was thought of as something like the post-Franco John Waters, mixing ’50s Hollywood-style melodrama with cheerful hedonism awash in sex and drugs. At this year’s New York Film Festival, it was Almodóvar’s latest, “Broken Embraces,” that was chosen for the closing night slot. And about a month before the festival, Tarantino’s latest film, “Inglourious Basterds,” became the unlikeliest hit of the year. What links both of these films is that, for each filmmaker, they represent a point at which they demonstrate a mastery of craft equal to the Hollywood films that inspired them.